Attractions December 21, 2016
There’s A Tiny European Town Right Here In Iowa And You’ll Want To Visit
Iowa is chock full of charming little towns just waiting to be explored. One of the most interesting and unique towns you’ll find in Iowa is like a tiny little slice of Europe, tucked away in eastern-central Iowa. St. Donatus is known as a Luxembourger village, and, trust me, you’ll really think you’re in Luxembourg when you pay it a visit.
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This sleepy little town has only a population of 135, but it’s big on charm, with its Luxembourg heritage, historic architecture and amazing scenery.
The town was settled by Luxembourgers over 150 years ago, and it is named after Saint Donatus of Muenstereifel, the patron saint of protection against lightning.
It is known for its status as a Luxembourger village and is populated mostly by descendants of immigrants from Luxembourg.
The village is chock full of beautiful old architecture, dating back to the 1850s. One of the crown jewels of the village is the St. Donatus Catholic Church.
This glorious old church was originally modeled after the St. Boniface Church in New Vienna in 1858. After a fire destroyed the interior of the church in 1907, a new church was constructed, using the preserved exterior stone walls that survived the fire. The new construction was completed in 1908, and the new church’s stone bell tower was constructed from stone from a nearby quarry.
The nearby St. Donatus Cemetery contains some amazing, elaborate old tombstones that are worth a visit.
St. Donatus is also home to the Pieta Chapel, at the end of the Way of the Cross trail.
Make sure to visit the trail and check out the 14 brick stations along the way. Each station contains an original lithographic print portraying Christ’s passion.
Don’t be surprised if you see a stray sheep along the way, and make sure to savor the glorious view at the end of the trail.
The chapel itself contains a statue of the pietà, portraying Mary cradling her son on her lap after the crucifixion.
Another must visit is the St. John’s Lutheran Church, a beautiful twin-spired church built in 1919.
After exploring the local architecture, make sure to stop for some Luxembourg flavor at Kalmes Restaurant.
This family owned restaurant has been serving the community for over 160 years, and it’s currently run by its fourth generation of family members.
The menu contains a wide array of mouthwatering sandwiches, burgers, and of course, Luxembourg classics, like Wiener Schnitzel Veal and Luxembourg Ground Steak. They’re located at 100 Main St., St. Donatus, IA.
If you want to make a weekend of it, make sure to experience some Luxembourg hospitality at the charming Gehlen House Inn.
This historic inn is located in what once was the local community center.
Directly behind the inn is a barn, most notable for the fact that it is one of only a few stone barns in Iowa. Located at 101 Main St., St Donatus, IA.
Have you visited St. Donatus? What did you think? For more of Iowa’s charming small towns and cities, These 13 Towns And Cities In Iowa Have The Most Breathtaking Scenery.