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The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee

Where in the US can you find a replica of the original Parthenon? Well, in Nashville, Tennessee! Originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, the Parthenon remained for 23 years in the empty fairgrounds.  In 1901, the Nashville Board of Parks was formed, and in 1902, Centennial Park - Nashville's premier urban park -- was established.  The Parthenon has been the cornerstone of the park every since.

The Parthenon

The building itself is an exact replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece.  In addition to the building, a 42-foot, full-scale replica of the statue Athena is housed at this location.  Inside you'll find replicas of the Parthenon Marbles, direct casts of the original sculptures that adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon, which dated back to 438 B.C.

Athena Statue

Athena stands 41 feet, 10 inches tall, and is estimated to weight 12 tons. Alan LeQuire, a Nashville native who was selected from seven sculptors to recreate the statue, built her in 1982. The original construction took eight years to complete; however, Athena stood for the next 12 years as a plain, white statue.  Then the statue was gilded -- a project that took just under 4 months -- and painted details were added to Athena's face, wardrobe, and shield.

Museum at The Parthenon

The Parthenon also houses the city's art museum, featuring a collection of over 60 paintings donated by American artist James M. Cowan.  The Cowan Collection spans the years 1765-1923, with works emphasizing landscape and seascape more than any other subject matter, and presenting a technical style that varies from Neo-classic to Impressionism.

Fun Facts
So what makes the Parthenon so unique?  Here are just a few interesting facts:

  • The Parthenon is 65 feet high at its apex.
  • All horizontal architectural elements arch slightly in the center. This means there are no true straight horizontal lines. These architectural refinements make the Parthenon look alive and flawless to the human eye.
  • All of the exterior columns incline slightly inward. The corner columns are diagonally inclined -- in other words, they are angled toward both sides. 
  • The interior of the Parthenon is divided into two rooms: the East room is called the Naos and it houses the statue of Athena; the West room is called the Treasury Room and houses the treasure of Athena and the Delian League.
  • The bronze doors weight 7.5 tons each. They measure 24' high, 7' wide and 1' thick, and are the largest set of matching bronze doors in the world.
  • Like its predecessor in Greece, the Parthenon in Nashville faces east.
  • The Parthenon has reached the end of a nearly ten-year restoration project.
  • A trip to Nashville would certainly not be complete with a trip back in time to the Parthenon.  (And you thought Nashville was only about country music!)
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