Western Trips

Western Trips

Sunday, October 19, 2014

One of the Seven Man-Made Wonders of Arizona / Sedona's Chapel of the Holy Cross

Among the beautiful and stunning red rock scenery of Sedona Arizona is perhaps one of the most unique chapels found anywhere on the North American continent. The Chapel of the Holy Cross was constructed in 1956 but it's story goes back many years before that.

chapel of the holy cross sedona
The Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, AZ
Envisioning a Chapel

The idea of this chapel in this place actually goes all the way back to 1932 when New Yorker,  Marguerite Bruswig Staude was inspired by the newly built Empire State Building. Staude was a sculptress, philanthropist, and devout Catholic. She was also an informal student of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Staude began envisioning a chapel with a cross as the central supporting structure. At first the idea was to build in Europe along the Danube but political unrest at that time dampened a European project.

After visiting Sedona Arizona, Staude, like many, was captivated by it's red rock beauty and decided that the chapel should be built there. As you can clearly see, Staude's design for the chapel actually made it a part of the natural landscape as could possibly be done. Marguerite Bruswig Staude considered the chapel her greatest artistic life achievement.


The Construction of an Architectural Masterpiece

The Chapel of the Holy Cross was constructed on a twin pinnacled spur of red rocks 250 feet high, jutting out of a thousand foot red rock wall. The chapel forms a framed cross and is enclosed by four large windows looking out over Sedona´s stunning red rocks. It took about one and one half years to build at a cost of $300,000. Building this type of structure at this location was certainly not an easy task.

sedona chapel
Chapel entrance
The Chapel received an award from the American Institute of Architects in 1957. Citizens of Arizona also named the Chapel of the Holy Cross one of the Seven Man-Made Wonders of Arizona in 2007. The chapel in Sedona had been featured in several publications including the New York Times and Life Magazine.

As you can see from it's photos, the chapel is surprisingly modern and contemporary even though it was built almost sixty years ago.The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona is one of the finest examples of building into the natural landscape. The balance and confidence the chapel holds with the landscape is remarkable.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is built on Coconino National Forest land and a special use permit was acquired with the help of then Senator Barry Goldwwater. The project architect was Richard Hein and the design was executed by August K. Strotz, both employed by the well known firm of Anshen & Allen

Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona

arizona chapel of the holy cross
Chapel interior
Talk a stroll inside Marguerite Bruswig Staude and Richard Hein’s inspiring structure, wedged between a twin-pinnacle spur in Oak Creek Valley. Today, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is one of the most visited attractions in Sedona and well worth a place on your Arizona trip planner. Thousands of people visit it annually and the photo opportunities from this location are some of the best in the Sedona area.

Just viewing the architecture of this one of a kind chapel and how it was built in the red rocks of Sedona is well worth a visit.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross does not have regular services held however there is an informal prayer session every Monday at 5P with the exception of when Christmas falls on a Monday.

You may also enjoy the Western Trips Arizona articles on the links below...

Attractions in Arizona / Prescott

Hiking Sedona's Crescent Moon Ranch Trail

A Visit to Flagstaff's Lowell Observatory

La Posada in Winslow Arizona

An excellent guide book for the Sedona Arizona area includes...Sedona Arizona Red Rock Country Tour Guide Book: Your personal tour guide for Sedona travel adventure! by Waypoint Tours.


sedona arizona attractions
The stunning red rocks on the way to the chapel
Marguerite Bruswig Staude bequeathed the chapel to the Catholic Church. The Diocese of Phoenix and St John Vianney parish are the caretakers of the Chapel. Regardless of  your faith, all people are welcomed to visit, meditate or pray there. There is a small gift shop on the floor underneath the chapel. As of this writing Chapel of the Holy Cross hours are 9A-5P daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Good Friday and Easter.

When visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross it is important to wear comfortable walking shoes. It's a steep climb from the parking area to the Chapel. If you require it, there is also a parking area at the top for the physically challenged.

Directions to the Chapel of the Holy Cross are as follows. From Highway 89A, take Highway 179 south from Sedona toward the Village of Oak Creek. Turn left on Chapel Road. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is at the end of the road. The formal address is 780 Chapel Rd., Sedona, Arizona.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)

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