In Northern Kentucky, a Mecca of Christian Tourism Awaits

Encounter with the ark
The Ark Encounter theme park features a life-size Noah’s Ark. |

I discovered much of Judeo-Christian history from creation to salvation during a visit to Covington, a northern Kentucky town directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

After landing at Cincinnati International Airport, which is actually located in Kentucky, I took a rental car and drove to the Creation Museum.

Opened in 2007 by Ken Ham of the Answers in Genesis ministry, the museum uses more than 140 exhibits to tell the biblical creation story through the lens of so-called Young Earth creationism – a view ridiculed by the laity. . This is done by combining scripture and science, which are not mutually exclusive.

Forty minutes away, on the outskirts of Williamstown and off a freeway, is the Ark Encounter, also part of Answers in Genesis.

Part museum and part theme park, it opened to much fanfare in 2016. For those who need a quick refresher on the Old Testament, the Bible in Genesis says God asked Noah to build a huge wooden ship to save creation from a flood that would destroy everything on Earth as punishment for the wickedness and evil of mankind. Inside the ship were Noah, his family, and two animals of various kinds.

To call what you see impressive is an understatement. Even non-believers must be impressed by the massive ark, which is admittedly an artistic rendition of what Noah built, albeit based on the dimensions specified in the pages of scripture (about seven stories high on two lots football long).

Covington 1
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption in Covington, Kentucky, has a west facade copied from Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. |

In downtown Covington is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption.

If that sounds familiar, that’s because much of the cathedral, built at the turn of the last century as the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Covington, is a copy of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Unfortunately, someone thought it was a good idea to build an elevated four-lane boulevard, car parks and several hideous neighboring buildings, including an apartment tower and a parish school, within the cathedral grounds. . Clever planning would have created a park to act as a buffer to the surrounding cityscape.

For a nearly complete view of the west facade – a one-third scale copy of Notre Dame – you need to walk about two blocks west on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Meanwhile, the north elevation with its almost tennis court sized stained glass window in the transept is visible from a parking lot.

The French neo-Gothic architecture is truly spectacular, although the cathedral is unfinished due to a lack of funds. And with Notre Dame still under reconstruction after its fire in 2019, Covington Cathedral is definitely worth a visit.

Another must-see is the Garden of Hope.

Besides sweeping views of the Ohio River towards Cincinnati, the big draw here is a replica of the rock-cut tomb in Jerusalem that some claim was the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection. Run in the 1930s by Reverend Morris Coers, a Southern Baptist pastor in Covington, the park has a few other sights, including the Western Wall Stone at Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, and a recreated Spanish Chapel of the 16th century.

If you are going to

The Creation Museum and Ark Encounter are open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. My recommendation is to avoid the Ark on weekends and holidays, as everything about the visitor arrival experience is horribly designed to the point that it can take an hour or more to park, buy a ticket and board a shuttle bus to the point of entry. Plus, $54.95 tickets for adults (plus parking) aren’t cheap except when compared to Disney.

The Basilica-Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday and on weekends outside of regular services, at no cost to visitors.

The Garden of Hope is also free. Tours led by volunteer guides must be booked in advance.

I stayed at a forgettable chain hotel near the airport. For something different, book a room at the Covington Hotel, a boutique hotel located in a former department store in downtown Covington.

By car, Covington is easily accessible by car from Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis.

Dennis Lennox writes a travel column for The Christian Post.

Dennis Lennox writes about travel, politics, and religious affairs. It has appeared in the Financial Times, Independent, The Detroit News, Toronto Sun and other publications. To follow @dennislennox on Twitter.

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