Alabama: Ave Maria Grotto
Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama, used reclaimed building supplies and donated objects to build miniature versions of world attractions like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Great Wall of China. Over nearly 70 years, he even built replicas of whole cities, including Jerusalem and Rome. These works and countless more are spread out across the Abbey’s grounds and are open to the public.
Alaska: Igloo City
Half-way between Fairbanks and Anchorage, this concrete igloo-shaped hotel is a popular tourist stop, though it never actually opened because it didn’t meet building code requirements. Built in the ’70’s, the building has gone through many owners, none of whom were able to complete up-to-code renovations.
Arizona: Biosphere II
At the foot of the Santa Catalina mountains north of Tucson is a glass compound straight out of the future. Biosphere II is a science research facility where over 20 years ago, seven scientists attempted to survive in a sealed mini-ecosystem for two years. While the greenhouses are a sight to behold for those who opt to drive by, the facility also serves as a science museum, offering tours and exhibits.
Arkansas: Christ of the Ozarks
This 67-foot Jesus statue, built for a religious theme park called Great Passion Play, was constructed with two million pounds of steel and mortar. It was designed by sculptor Emmet Sullivan, who was hired by political organizer Gerald LK Smith to complete the building project. Smith and his wife are buried near the base of the statue.
California: Salvation Mountain
Over 100,000 gallons of paint cover this 50-foot hillside in the desert of southern California. Artist Leonard Knight, who spent 30 years painting colorful biblical messages on the hill before he died in 2014, moved to the nearby squatter village called Slab City in the 80’s. He lived there in his truck with multiple cats for decades while he painted Salvation Mountain.
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