The Grotto

N River Walk, San Antonio, TX 78215

At the intersection of Camden and Newell Streets in San Antonio, an impressive realistic structure, a palapa, draws attention for its shade and beauty at street level, simultaneously beckoning passersby to the river below. Here, one can encounter the largest artwork in the Museum Reach, The Grotto, a three-story concrete sculpture by Carlos Cortés. This masterpiece is a testament to Cortés's dedication and a revival of a traditional technique known as Faux Bois or "false wood", brought from Mexico by his great uncle and father about 70 years ago. Key highlights of the project include:

  • The grotto, constructed over nine months by a dozen full-time workers, features Cortés's signature palapa structures, a tribute to his ancestors' work and a symbol of their legacy in San Antonio.
  • Strategically located along the river's west bank, the grotto incorporates inbuilt benches, providing visitors a respite from the heat as they enjoy the soothing waterfall sounds and cooler temperatures.
  • Further enriching the experience, the grotto reveals a variety of faces - some intentional and others accidental, embedded within the structure, resulting in a unique blend of traditional and unconventional religious undertones.
  • Visitors can also discover "Father Nature's Waterfall" deeply nested within the cave, adding another layer of intrigue and depth to Cortés's work. The installation has received notable public acclaim, particularly its interactive elements such as the waterfall sound effects, which notably enhance the overall immersive experience for both adults and children.
  • The Grotto, completed in 2009, comes alive at night with illuminating lights, and it serves as a habitat for bats.
  • A thatched-roof shade structure, or a palapa, is situated directly across the river on street level, offering additional space to unwind.
  • This work of art is free to the public and is a must-see destination on the San Antonio Riverwalk, whether on foot or by bike.

Cortés' masterful blend of fantasy and functionality, history and modernity, makes the Grotto a captivating and unique fixture in the heart of San Antonio.