We saved the tour of the Parthenon for our last day in Nashville. There were only a few times when we needed to use Uber and this was one of them. Almost everything we wanted to see was in walking distance of the Renaissance. Friday morning we jumped into the Uber with the sun shining brightly and took our 15 minute ride to Centennial Park.
Centennial Park is the home of the Parthenon. It started out as part of a 640 acre farm that was purchased in 1783 for fifty cents an acre by John and Ann Robertson Cockrill. It was used as a staging area during the War of 1812 and the Civil War and then became a race track and fairgrounds before becoming the site of the 1897 Centennial Exposition, celebrating Tennessee’s first 100 years of statehood. In 1902 the city purchased 130 acres to become what is now known as Centennial Park.
Our plan was to explore the area after finding a place to eat breakfast. The place we decided on was just across the street from the Parthenon. Somewhere between the time we arrived in the café and time we finished eating the sunshine disappeared and it was replaced with a monsoon accompanied by wind!!!! That was not what we were planning on but I guess next time we should check the weather before leaving. We decided to ride the storm out in the café which took about an hour and a half.
We did a quick tour of the outside of the Parthenon before the next rain storm started. The biggest attraction in the Parthenon is Athena, the goddess of wisdom and prudent warfare. When I say biggest I mean physically, since she is 41’ 10” tall! This sculpture is the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western World. Athena was created by Nashvillian Alan LeQuire and is made out of gypsum cement reinforced with fiberglass on a steel frame. Nike, goddess of victory, stands on Athena’s right hand and is 6’4” tall. The sculpture was unveiled in May of 1990 and was gilded and painted in 2002 with 8 pounds of 23.75 carat gold. There are pictures in the photo gallery of my website of Athena and the exterior of the Parthenon.
The full scale replica of the Parthenon was for the 1897 Centennial Exposition. For the exposition there were many other buildings constructed around the Parthenon. Those buildings were constructed of brick, wood lath and plaster. The building were all temporarily constructed and eventually started to crumble including the Parthenon. The city authorized the reconstruction of the landmark with permanent materials and decided to create a complete replica of the original Greek temple both inside and out. On May 21, 1931 the Parthenon reopened to the public but none of the other buildings were reconstructed.
Inside we saw beautiful paintings, sculptures and pictures of the original buildings from the Centennial Exposition. There was also glassware, coins and a number of other items that were from the 1897 Centennial Exposition on display. This is definitely a place you want to see if you are in the area. My only recommendation is to check the weather first because you may need to have an umbrella along with you.
Tomorrow I will tell you a little about the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry.
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