Weekly Photo Challenge -Monument

“Art reaches back into the babyhood of time, and it is man’s only lasting monument”

William Morris Hunt



This week’s challenge is “Monument”, for which I’ve chosen the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona.  While not a monument in the traditional sense, its placement looming above the beautiful red rocks of Sedona certainly meets the definition “an outstanding, enduring and memorable example of something”.



“Great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The chapel has an interesting history. It was designed and sponsored by artist/sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Originally it was planned for Budapest, but those plans were disrupted by the beginning of World War II.  Following the war, the concept was moved to its founder’s native Arizona amidst some amount of controversy due to its placement in a  pristine, federally-protected natural environment. With its 90 foot cross atop a 200 ft stone jutting out of the rocks it is certainly a site which commands attention.



“Mountains are earth’s undecaying monuments.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne

The chapel has been featured in the New York Times, Life Magazine and The Washington Post among others. In addition to its role as a place for spirituality, it is purportedly a site of one of the four vortexes of Sedona – spots where the earth’s energy is increased, leading to self-awareness and healing. Native American tribes were drawn to the area as early as 1300 AD.



“Live a life as a monument to your soul.”

Ayn Rand

Some say that if the developers were to propose such a building today, it would not be allowed.  There are those who feel it is a detraction from the natural landscape. For believers and many others, it is a beautiful creation which takes full advantage of a glorious view of some of God’s best work :-).  Whatever your beliefs, a visit to the red rocks of Sedona is an opportunity to enjoy some of nature’s finest offerings.  So what do you think – is the chapel an enhancement or a detraction from Sedona’s beautiful red rocks?

To see the monuments other bloggers have chosen to feature, click here.

106 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge -Monument

    • Thanks Sue – I only found it through a photography book I read before traveling out there. Guess it’s not on the main touring map but I was glad we sought it out.

      • I’m glad you did too because we got to see your beautiful photos of it, even if we haven’t seen it in person!

  1. Hi Tina – well I can see why some find the cross a distraction – like people who do not like crosses, or who do like this type of art – or that it represents Christianity.

    But you said it well, “….90 foot cross atop a 200 ft stone jutting out of the rocks it is certainly a site which commands attention…” and would like to see this in person.

    Also, it was a treat for me as I read and scrolled – because the first photo is all mountain and cross. And so I scrolled a little – then read the first section – to then scroll again and bam! the greenery in the cactus popped up (almost pricked me – but I’m okay – … O_o) – and then bam again, the next one, “towering” photo, was my fav because it is such work of art with that radiating green plant – and how it works with the rest – there is like 4 dimensions in that photo – which is a looking up view – and maybe five if you add the sky. whewwww –

    and lastly, how cool to hear about the ” vortexes of Sedona…” – would like to learn more about that.
    Have a great day -and Happy Easter too.

    • Hey there Yvette – such a wonderful comment, thanks so much. Have been ofline a bit as we had guests for Easter but it was so nice to come back to see this! And yes, the vortexes of Sedona are quite famous. I must admit I did not feel them but I’m not really a very mystical person so probably the issue was me not them 🙂 Hope your Easter was terrific.

  2. great images Tina…and thanks for the background. I am not sure how I feel about it. I think that in some ways it is a kick in the face to the local Indian population

  3. What can I say? Wonderful, wonderful, and wonderful!
    I have a stupid question. What did you focus on in the last two shots? Everything is in focus: the cactus, the rocks, and the chapel. How do you achieve that? (I did buy a new lens, so now I cannot blame my lens but mine lack of skills :))

  4. I’m sure it has its admirers, and for good reason, but I think the rocks would be prettier without it. The structure just doesn’t seem to be in harmony with the natural setting to me. Honestly, that place is just too naturally pretty to have a building placed on it, in my humble opinion.

    • Thanks for placing your vote Bill !! It seems there are as many against as there are for, so you’re certainly not alone :-). I’m a bit conflicted about it myself!

  5. Beautiful photographs, Tina. I like how you have shot the same subject from different points of view. Although a great piece of architecture, personally I feel any religious building is a bit of a misfit. I would rather prefer to see a monument that pays tribute to the natural beauty of this wonderful place.

    • Hello Uday, thanks as always for your thoughtful comment. You are the first to suggest something than either a yes or no, rather a yes, but 🙂 I like your idea but am afraid that window is closed. An excellent idea though!

  6. I didn’t see the chapel when I was in Sedona. Guess I’m in the minority but I think it disrupts the natural beauty of that area.

  7. Tina, I’m so glad that you offered some of the history of the Chapel. The first thing that came to my mind was “how on earth was someone able to build that there?”. Instinctively, I want to say no, it shouldn’t be there. but it is a beautiful structure, isn’t it?

    • Hi LB, and thanks for your visit and comment. I agree, one’s first instinct is that it shouldn’t have been allowed but there are many “on second thought”s to consider as well! At the end of the day I think it’s just right, as long as it’s the exception and not the rule.

    • Many thanks Nora. I agree the site is beautifully blended and appeals to an entirely different set of visitors, which I think is also a good thing. Appreciate your visit, vote and lovely comment.

  8. Lovely photos and great info too, Tina. I had the good fortune to spend several weeks in California and Arizona many, many years ago, but this building and installment in the nature I missed. Enjoyed your post!
    Have a great new week!
    Love, Dina

    • Thanks Dina – It’s a beautiful area but if you haven’t read about it beforehand you can easily miss it. I was glad we made the extra effort and must admit after visiting that I have very mixed feelings about whether it belongs there. At the end of the day I suppose I’m with those who say there are many other nature-only areas in Sedona for the purists among us, so having a beautiful, simple and well-integrated structure that credits the creator for such a glorious gift in one place isn’t such a bad thing after all!

  9. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge – Monument – Views through the ruins. |

  10. Nice take on the Monument theme! I missed that on my visit to Sedona several years back! Sedona is truly a beautiful place but I’ve noticed it has grown exponentially since my visit—lots of new homes nestled among the beautiful red rocks. Sunset is the best time, for it turns the rocks into a reddish hue that one just wouldn’t expect to see from rocks. I’d love to visit there again, this time with more time allocated to taking in the land.

    You’re welcome to come and see what my take on the theme is:

  11. I was in Sedona in January and took a shot of this that looks as though it’s from the same spot as your second shot. My parents used to live in Sedona although they’re now in the Phoenix area but what a beautiful area that is. So glad you found the challenge! Hope you enjoyed your weekend.


    • Hi Janet; thanks for your visit and comment. My brother has a place in Scottsdale which we visit occasionally. It truly is amazing landscape, and so incredibly different than our lowcountry environment here in SC! We found Sedona especially beautiful.

    • Thanks for the vote Andy! It not only draws attention, it also draws tourists which I think is a good thing for the area. As someone pointed out earlier, there are many spots unspoiled by man if that’s your preference. This one draws an entirely different group of visitors.

  12. It really is a very special place and your pictures capture its beauty. I have a number of similar shots and lots from our hikes in the trails around Sedona. It’s a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Thanks for sharing and for your greats quotes. I particularly like Ayn Rand’s. Best wishes…A

    • Thanks Andrew – I loved the Rand quote too. I’m a big fan of his writing. I agree all of Sedona is especially beautiful; I loved exploring off the beaten track too. Definitely a bucket list stop, especially for photographers!

  13. Having been to Sedona several times, I never saw this chapel. It’s a beautiful integration of architecture into the natural rock formation. I wonder what it’s like to be inside the chapel and look out on the landscape? While I personally can see the holy site in the rock formations without having to add a man-made structure, I can appreciate the choice of location for this chapel.

    • Well said Annette. Next time do make a point of stopping there, it’s worth the diversion and not far from the main road. We didn’t get inside but everything I’ve read says that the chapel was specifically designed to optimize the view of the vista through the huge glass front. It really is done very tastefully and simply but I agree, one can feel the spirituality of the various sites without needing a man-made structure to help!

  14. Just opened up the February 2014 issue of Arizona Highways magazine to find a short history and a photograph of the other, much less photogenic, side of the chapel taken by famed photographer Joseph Meunch in 1956. Interesting reading.

    • Alas, the online version is May and I couldn’t find the chapel photo and history. But appreciate your letting me know about it! So glad we made the effort to go see it-well worth the diversion!

  15. Good question Tina… I think it is very cool, but I can see why others would disagree. If someone build something like that on Niagara Falls (or beside would be better 😉 ) I could see I would disagree. This does blend in nicely and doesn’t stand out too much, so I think it is tasteful.

    • Very interesting thought about Niagra Falls CTB, hadn’t thought of it that way. But on the other hand, the red rock vistas cover such a large area one can go many places that DON’T have man-made structures (as someone pointed out earlier) so perhaps it’s a bit more acceptable here. Whatever one’s opinion about whether it should have been allowed, it is at least done simply and integrated beautifully into the scenery around it. Appreciate your visit and “vote”!

      • I wondered if there was a larger area, so it won’t spoil a small view. It was tasteful and didn’t stick out at all. I guess the whole intent is to showcase its spirtual powers and that is maybe pinpointing and directing those who go there for that reason?

  16. I am so glad you sent this to me… …. What a remarkable structure… Just fascinating! There is never a ” wrong” place in my book for the reminder of the Cross…. Particularly on this Palm Sunday! Thanks T..

  17. As the photos show ,it is what it is …….a beautiful structure in a beautiful environment both enhanced for these viewers by beautiful photos. Really enjoyed the very,very early mornings to get vortexed.

  18. It’s certainly an amazing building Tina. I think it’s in the wrong place personally but it’s there now and it really is quite beautiful. I like the sound of all that healing and sprituality going on.. 🙂

  19. I had heard of this chapel, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to head back into Sedona to have a look, so thank you for sharing these images. I love the way you have managed to incorporate several varieties of natural vegetation into your shots! The design suits the location I think, a simple clean-lined structure that doesn’t detract from its landscape.

  20. I can imagine people having mixed feelings about this Chapel in Sedona Tina .. but having seen it – but not up so close as you did – I like it . My own feeling is that there are many vistas, views , and Red Rock formations in Sedona area to enjoy, one with such a ‘monument’ as in the given definition certainly does not detract from any of it ..
    Your photos show it well !

    • Thanks PT – interesting comment. It’s true there are many, many remarkable and unspoiled vistas of the amazing red rock formations. Fortunately, the chapel is very much the exception as development around the most interesting sites is very restricted. Unfortunately though, there are some new McMansions springing up around the site of the chapel which I suppose is a testament to what can happen when exceptions are made 😦 Make way for “progress” I’m afraid.

  21. I’ve been to Sedona , but at the time I was not aware of the chapel so I missed it.

    While I do like the design, I do agree that it would not be allowed if proposed now, especially considering that the area is a spiritual place for the local native people.

    • Hi Peter – thanks for stopping by! I found the chapel by visiting some photo sites before I visited. I find they often point to the best spots which are sometimes missed in tour guides. I guess you’ll just have to go back!

  22. Interesting choice, Tina. I’ve not had the good fortune to visit Arizona, but it’s scenic beauty looks to hold a grandeur of place. The design of the chapel looks pleasing – clean lines, but to me detracts by using Christian symbolism rather than recognising a universal aspect of celebrating the awe of nature.

    • Hi Liz, thanks for your visit and comment. I remember remarking to my husband along the same lines. The chapel is truly beautiful and is placed perfectly on the site, but I felt it was a bit out of context with the natural wonder of the place.

  23. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: (Famous and Personal) Monuments | Pilot Fish

  24. GREAT PHOTOS! I was there a couple of years ago and found it amazing. Outside the entrance to the Chapel high up, is a red rock formation of what they say is of the Madonna and child. Inside it is very peaceful and the statue of the head of Jesus and His death are works of art. I have put the photos of this place in a photo book to be enjoyed over and over again. Thank you for sharing the story of this place.


    • Hi Francine! Nice to “see” you 🙂 Yes, I read about the Madonna and Child after our visit but didn’t see it altho perhaps if I go back thru my photos I caught it inadvertently? Glad you enjoyed the spot as much as I did!

  25. The colors of the Southwest have always lured me. But it is the spiritual effects that always stay with me. Really like the way the chapel is built into the existing landscape. Thanks for the infusion of the glory and majesty of this part of our country.

    • Thanks Sally – yes the red hues have to be seen to be believed, don’t they?! I guess my view is that if there must be such a man-made structure in such a natural wonder, at least it’s a beautifully simple one that blends well with its surroundings.

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