Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens
Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens used to be known as Christus Gardens. A young Ronald Ligon, whose dad was a wealthy owner of cemeteries and mausoleums, had a dream of opening it. Ron attended Vanderbilt University and had a brush with death. Afterward he spent a lot of time traveling through Europe visiting Christian shrines. He was researching so that he could build a “memorial to Christ” to show his gratitude for his survival.
In 1960, Ron was in Gatlinburg, Tennessee looking for land to build a motel. After a real estate agent showed him the land below the chair lift, he realized it was the perfect place he had been looking for to put his memorial. Christus Gardens opened in August in 1960 and became America’s #1 religious attraction. A six ton slab of marble of the carved face of Jesus is the centerpiece for the museum. It is said to be the most photographed object in Gatlinburg. An interesting fact about the carving is that Ron randomly found it in an old warehouse in Italy. No matter where you are standing, the face of the sculpture seems to face you.
As you travel through the museum, you come across highlights of the life of Jesus that are told by wax dummy dioramas. It is said that the dummies are clothed by the costumer from Ben-Hur. This museum has been an inspiration for many that have visited the area. Christus Gardens closed in 2008, but the owners reopened it as the Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens. Enjoy the experience of walking through a Biblical world of 2000 years ago. See the story of Christ unfold through the lifelike scenes, dramatic lighting and special effects. This museum is located on River Road in Gatlinburg and was spared by the Gatlinburg wildfires as was all of downtown Gatlinburg. Be sure to visit on your next trip to the Great Smoky Mountains area. You will leave inspired.