The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee
Where in the US can you find a replica of the original Greek Parthenon? Well, in Nashville, Tennessee! Originally built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897, 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 ever since.
After having been built with brick, wood, and plaster for the Centennial Exposition in Tennessee, this structure lay lifeless for approximately twenty years. Defaced by wind and weather, the replica was rebuilt starting in 1920 and wasn't finished as a permanent fixture in Nashville's Centennial Park until 1931.
Before the permanent replica had been completed, it held Spring Pageants in the years 1913 and 1914 that brought audiences from all over to witness the productions. With marvelous displays of chariot races, dance numbers, live birds, and set pieces that shot flames to draw attention, this was quite the spectacle for the time. On occasion, the steps of the Nashville Parthenon are used for theater productions of Greek plays such as Medea and Antigone during the summer months.
The Nashville Parthenon is a full-time art museum now, housing replicas of the Athena Parthenos statue and a permanent collection of sixty-three paintings and a wide array of temporary exhibits throughout the year. There have even been movies that used the Nashville Parthenon as the backdrop for scenes, such as Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
The building itself is an exact replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece and will transport visitors to ancient 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.
This replica is a true testament to the majesty of the original Parthenon and is within close proximity to downtown Nashville, making it even more convenient to visit on your trip to the area. Feel as though you have been sent back in time to Athens to see this magnificent building, with its perfect replica being a match to the original building.
Located just off West End Road, the building itself is truly a sight to behold. Upon entering the building, the museum inside will also have visitors marveling at its beauty. Just a short distance from the Grand Ole Opry, this building is located within minutes of so many different Nashville attractions, making it more convenient to get a glimpse of recreated history while vacationing in the Nashville area.
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 Athena 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.
With the dimensions of Athena Parthenos statue, the structure holds the record of being the largest indoor sculpture in the Western Hemisphere. For the first twelve years after the statue of Athena's creation, it stood as a plain white sculpture before volunteers helped to gild it with the supervision of master gilder Lou Reed.
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.
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 vacation 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. Pair a trip to the Parthenon with awesome hotel options in Nashville, TN.