Photo Essay: Cathedral of Junk


“Keep Austin Weird” is the city’s proud slogan, and nobody is promoting the weird factor more than Vince Hannemann. Since he moved to Austin’s south side in the 1980s he has been slowly assembling a veritable mountain of discarded items in his backyard. Like a Where’s Waldo book, visitors delight in spotting familiar items in the carefully constructed masse.

I joined the FAQ ranks by asking why he started, and if he had any end-goal or purpose in mind. “If I had a snappy answer, I’d give you one,” spoke the be smirked Hannemann. He did inform me that the Cathedral is his full-time gig, and with 14,000 visitors to his property last year alone, it seems he is able to keep the lights on.

Admission is free, though Hannemann perches by the donation box as his visitors exit his property, fixing the vulture-eye in their direction until they open their wallets. It was my delight to add a five spot to the daily collection. In this BlinkPacker’s estimation, any trip to Austin would be incomplete without a visit to this holy homage to the discarded.


The entrance to the cathedral is well kept and gives only subtle hints about the creation in the backyard.


Discarded CDs play with the sunlight like dreamcatchers.


The cathedral is over 30 feet tall, and is more stunning in person than any photograph could ever portray.


The artist groups items with humor and subtle irony — every corner of the cathedral offers a visual quip to those tuned in enough to notice.


The collected items prove that trash can be colorful, and even dazzling.


At the end of one of the ‘cave’ tunnels.


The ‘old’ becomes ‘new’ when viewed in a new context.


Some items inspire contemplation, while others induce a quick chuckle.



If you are ever in Austin, do not miss the opportunity to have a look around one of the most unique sites, I dare say, in the country.



My family is traveling around the USA in a 10 foot Shasta Compact travel trailer from 1969. We are currently camped in Austin, TX and headed toward Dallas / Ft. Worth. Keep it right here for tales from the journey, and please also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Nothing keeps us motivated more than the encouragement of hearing from our readers, so keep in touch by commenting below. Thanks!

8 thoughts on “Photo Essay: Cathedral of Junk

  1. I don’t know about that. Kinda reminds me of a cross between American Pickers and Hoarders….. I can imagine that to see it first hand, in person, however, would have been a different experience!

    • Thank you, TripAdvisor, for the awesome lead on this one. What did we do before all these great travel apps made their way into our phones? Good to hear from you Tim!

      • Yeah, I seriously wouldn’t have found any of the great spots over the last couple years if it weren’t for apps like that.

        I keep meaning to call — I’ll try to tomorrow!

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