Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nashville - The Athens of the South

Every good Southerner, nay every good citizen knows a bit about their city that sets it apart from the rest of the world. Everyone knows that Nashville has a rich history of Country Music (yes, with the requisite capital letters!)  Perhaps it would be a bit of a shock to learn that sitting in the middle of a large park in the southern part of Nashville sits the only full sized replica of the Parthenon built anywhere in the world.  Now, for the uninformed, the Parthenon is a temple built in honor of the god Athena and sits at the top of the Athenian Acropolis (naturaly) in Greece.

Originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, this replica of the original Parthenon in Athens serves as a monument to what is considered the pinnacle of classical architecture. The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the Naos are direct casts of the original sculptures which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon, dating back to 438 B.C. The originals of these powerful fragments are housed in the British Museum in London. 

Oh geez, did that put anyone to sleep?  Let's try to stay awake here.  

Your next question may be why?  Why put this big, full sized replica in the middle of a park in the middle of a city in the middle of the US? Quite simply, Nashville has always been called the "Athens of the South" and the directors of the 1897 exposition wished to expand on this and so it was decided that the Parthenon would center the exposition perfectly. 

It was originally slated to be torn down after the exposition (as most all of the other buildings were,) but locals loved it so that they left it.  Weather defaced it to such a degree that it was completely rebuilt in 1920 and refaced in the early 1990's.  It houses an art collection and is big enough for public and private parties. It has even been used in movies as backdrop to such action films as Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. 

So if you're planning a trip to Nashville, be sure to add this to your itinerary alongside the music studios, live music venues and gift shops.  

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