By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Jan 02, 2001 at 6:15 AM

Just a half an hour away from Milwaukee sits one of the area's most remarkable landmarks. Holy Hill (or the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, as it's officially known) in Hubertus is truly a sight to behold.

Spectacular in summer or winter, the neo-Romanesque Church, with its stained glass windows and mosaics offer a view of almost all of Southeastern Wisconsin.

The structure sits atop 400 wooded acres in the southern Kettle Moraine countryside. Climb the observation tower's 178 steps (in warmer months, only) and you'll see the skyline of Milwaukee to the east. Believe it or not, you'll almost see all the way to Madison if you look west. Worshipers and tourists, alike, can visit the 14 groups of life-size sculptures and stroll Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail.

In addition to a Wisconsin landmark, Holy Hill is, of course, a fully functioning place of worship. There's a weekend Mass schedule along with Marian Devotions and daily religious services. The sacrament of confession, traditionally associated with the Shrines, is readily available for those desiring it.

From June through October, Holy Hill operates the Old Monastery Inn Cafeteria, which can only be described as a journey back in time. Their pies and desserts are especially good. There's also a large gift store at the base of the hill, with everything from religious items to Holy Hill shot glasses for sale.

It's a bit difficult to find this landmark, though the church is hard to miss. From Milwaukee, take Hwy 41/45 north to Hwy 41/167. Follow it west to Carmel Rd. For more information, call the Discacled Carmelite Friars at (262) 628-1838.

Andy is the founder and co-owner of He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.