GO! SEE! EXPLORE! :: The Crystal Shrine Grotto

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GoSeeExplore

What if I said that there was a beautiful park in Memphis with a reflecting pool, interesting structures to sit and climb on, and a cave filled with art and crystals… but it was in a cemetery. Interestingly (or strangely) enough, there is! The Crystal Shrine Grotto is inside of Memorial Park Cemetery and one of Memphis’s most hidden gems!

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Originally built in the 1930’s, this grotto is located in the middle of Memorial Park Cemetery, right across from the grave of Isaac Hayes. But don’t worry: no one is buried in this part of the cemetery. The artist, Dionicio Rodríguez, was in charge of beautifying the grounds of the cemetery during the Great Depression. He dug a cave almost 60 feet into a hill on the grounds and decorated the interior with faux crags made of cement and quartz crystals which are exposed to sunlight on the exterior end to create a glowing effect. It’s dark and cool like a real cave would be, except that this cave has choir music piped in and every surface is covered in crystals. There are several scenes depicting the birth, life, and death of Jesus inside the cave.

entrance to the grotto
The entrance to the Grotto

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The grotto is surrounded by an impressive meditation garden complete with a knotty wooden bridge, a pond, a fountain of youth, a wishing well, and animal decoys (designed to scare away a destructive and sizeable goose population). There is also a gnarled concrete tree that guests can sit in (or, if you’re anything like my kids, climb on). The landscaping surrounding is also an ideal climbing area and my kids love to climb around the surrounding hillside area; just make sure you are respectful of any mourners that may be close by. Usually there are koi fish in the pool and you can buy fish food at the Memorial Park office to feed them, but we didn’t see any fish when we went earlier in the summer.

 

inside the grotto
The interior of the cave.
two girls at the tree at the Crytal Shrine Grotto
The gnarled concrete tree

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The Grotto is open daily whenever the cemetery is open. Admission is always free and photography is is fine inside and outside the cave. It’s challenging with strollers (there are a couple of steps up the the bridge at the entrance but then it’s paved and even), but doable. From the Poplar entrance of the cemetery, take an immediate right, then bear left and turn left (yes, these directions are vague; the roads are very twisty in the cemetery). Then the grotto will be on your left. There is no parking lot; park along the road. And don’t forget to sign the guest book inside the cave!

Crystal Shrine Grotto at Memorial Park Cemetery
5668 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38119-0885
(901) 767-8930

 

 

the reflecting pond
The reflecting pool

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