Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, is nicknamed “Music City,” and it’s particularly identified with the uniquely American form of entertainment that is country music. In February 2013, I spent a long weekend in Nashville, sandwiched around an overnight journey to the nearby city of Murfreesboro. During my all-too-brief stay in Nashville, I delved into the history and heritage of country music by exploring some of the places that honour and preserve that past. As well, I checked out out some of the other institutions that make Nashville special.
The Parthenon: a taste of Greece in the American South
Upon arriving at my Nashville hotel on a Friday night, my first order of business, naturally, was to sing karaoke in the hotel bar. But immediately afterward, I jumped into a cab and headed to a unique attraction: a full-scale replica of the Parthenon, complete with meticulous re-creations of the friezes on the pediment and entablature.
Conceived as a temporary installation for the Tennessee Centennial exhibition in 1897, Nasvhille’s Parthenon was completely rebuilt with more permanent materials by 1931. Its floor plan duplicates that of its Greek doppelganger, and filling that floor is an art museum. The collection focuses on 19th and 20th century American landscape paintings, but its signature piece is a gilded, 42-foot-tall statue of the Greek goddess Athena, a reconstruction of an identical sculpture (known as “Athena Parthenos”) that once stood in the original Parthenon in Athens (but was removed by the Romans in the 5th century A.D.). Continue reading