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Grotto

A sanctuary of peace and serenity minutes from busy Downtown Portland.

Officially known as The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto is a 62-acre (25-hectare) Catholic shrine and botanical gardens. It is set on two levels with a high cliff face providing a natural divide between them. 

Before it became an attraction for tourists and religious pilgrims, The Grotto site was a former quarry. It was transformed into shrine under the auspices of Fr. Ambrose Mayer, who saw the acreage as a “natural cathedral.” 

When just a boy, Fr. Mayer watched his mother dying after giving birth. In his prayers to God to save her, Fr. Mayer promised to create a great work for the Catholic Church. His mother survived and The Grotto is his promise fulfilled. Work began in 1923, when a cave was carved into the cliff face. In 1946, Fr. Mayer installed a marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta above an altar in the cave, which is called Our Lady’s Grotto. It’s part of the Plaza Level, which covers almost 20 acres (8 hectares).

This level also includes the Welcome Center and Visitor Complex and the Stations of the Cross, which surround the Chapel of Mary. You are welcome to attend one of the daily masses in the chapel.

To climb the 110 feet (33 meters) up the cliff to the Upper Level, use the elevator, which has a fee. On the Upper Level you will find one of Portland’s largest green spaces. Walk the well-kept paths around garden beds filled with rhododendrons and native plants. Don’t miss the views over Colombia River Valley and the Cascades. On a clear day you will spot Mount St. Helens and possibly Mount Rainier in the distance. 

The views are also seen through the glass walls of the architecture award-winning Meditation Chapel, which sits on the north face of the cliff.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, The Grotto transforms during the Festival of the Lights, a display incorporating over 500,000 lights, choral performances and puppet shows. 

In addition to its scenic beauty, The Grotto operates as a center for those in need, offering counseling services, religious guidance and retreats. It’s open daily except for Thanksgiving Day and December 25.


Guide to Exploring around Grotto


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Lodging Near Grotto

See all 454 Hotels near Grotto
$48
Howard Johnson Portland Airport

Howard Johnson Portland Airport

8247 Ne Sandy Blvd, Portland
3.0
of 5, from 2,235 reviews
2.5 out of 5.0

Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Grotto, Rocky Butte, and Cascade Station. Grant Park and Providence Portland Medical Center are also within 3 mi (5 km).

$60
Red Lion Hotel Portland Airport

Red Lion Hotel Portland Airport

7101 NE 82nd Ave, Portland
3.6
of 5, from 4,836 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Guests on the go appreciate the hotel's complimentary, 24-hour airport shuttle and a convenient location about 5 miles from Lloyd Center shopping and 8 miles from downtown Portland.

$59
Quality Inn & Suites Airport

Quality Inn & Suites Airport

9727 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland
4.0
of 5, from 1,157 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in Parkrose, this motel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Grotto, Cascade Station, and Rocky Butte. Grant Park and Providence Portland Medical Center are also within 6 mi (10 km).

$50
Red Roof Inn Portland

Red Roof Inn Portland

3828 NE 82nd Ave, Portland
2.6
of 5, from 740 reviews
2.0 out of 5.0

Situated near the airport, this motel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Grotto, Rocky Butte, and Cascade Station. Grant Park and Providence Portland Medical Center are also within 3 mi (5 km).

$58
Ramada Portland Airport

Ramada Portland Airport

6221 NE 82nd Ave, Portland
3.1
of 5, from 5,266 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

The Ramada Portland Airport is a half-mile from the Colwood National Golf Club and 1.5 miles from Portland International Airport.

$101
Radisson Hotel Portland Airport

Radisson Hotel Portland Airport

6233 NE 78th Court, Portland
4.3
of 5, from 2,029 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

Located on a small lake, this hotel is within two miles of Portland International Airport and within eight miles of Lloyd Center, the Rose Garden arena, and the convention center.

$59
Studio 6 Portland OR

Studio 6 Portland OR

4911 NE 82nd Ave, Portland
2.6
of 5, from 585 reviews
2.5 out of 5.0

Situated near the airport, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Grotto, Cascade Station, and Rocky Butte. Portland Meadows Racetrack and Grant Park are also within 6 mi (10 km).

$47
Rodeway Inn Portland Airport

Rodeway Inn Portland Airport

9723 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland
3.4
of 5, from 1,083 reviews
2.5 out of 5.0

Located in Parkrose, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Grotto, Cascade Station, and Rocky Butte. Grant Park and Concordia University are also within 6 mi (10 km).