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Nashville the Athens of the South

As you travel west out of Nashville on your Nashville Show Trip bus tour you will drive by Bicentennial Mall State Park, home to the only full size replica of the Parthenon in the world! From its columns that soar high into the sky to its majestic statue of Athena Parthenos, Nashville’s Parthenon is what makes it the, “Athens of the South.”

Originally built to celebrate Tennessee’s 100th birthday in 1897, today the wondrous structure not only functions as the centrepiece of Nashville’s Centennial Park, but as the pinnacle of Nashville’s classical architecture. 

Parthenon at Night in Nashville, Tennessee Parthenon at Night in Nashville, Tennessee
Athena Parthenos in the Nashville Parthenon Athena Parthenos in the Nashville Parthenon
Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park
A Reproduction of the Greek Parthenon in Nashville A Reproduction of the Greek Parthenon

The Centrepiece of Centennial Park

Parthenon

Centennial Park’s Parthenon was an idea spawned by Major Eugene Castner Lewis, the director of the Centennial Exhibition that took place in 1897. With no two columns the same and completed in polychrome, the reproduction of the Parthenon is the only exact replica of the original Parthenon found in Greece.

 

Athena Parthenos

Re-created by Alan Lequire in 1990, the Athena Parthenos statue is the focal point of the Parthenon and considered the largest indoor statue in the Western world. Carefully constructed to scholarly standards, Athena Parthenos is made of a composite of gypsum and fibreglass. After standing in Nashville’s Parthenon as a plain, white statue for 12 years, it was glided in 2002 after careful research. Cuirassed and helmeted, Athena carries a shield on her left arm and a small statue of Nike in her right palm, a large serpent rears its head between her and the shield she is holding.

 

Plaster Casts of the Elgin Marbles

Plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles can be found in Naos, the east room of the building’s main hall. These replicas are of significant importance as they are a direct cast of the original decorations found on the pediments of the original Athenian Parthenon.

 

Nashville’s Art Museum

Today the Parthenon serves as the city of Nashville’s art museum. From the museum’s permanent collections with a focus on 63 paintings donated by American artist James M. Cowan to the additional gallery space which regularly features a variety of contemporary shows and exhibits, the museum attracts both locals and tourists.

 

The Arts

During the summer months tourists can expect to see local theatre productions taking place outside the Parthenon, its structure is a popular backdrop used for Greek plays such as Euripides’ Medea and Sophocles’. 

Travel Tips

  • Take some time to familiarize yourself with the Nashville’s Parthenon ahead of time, so you can sit back, relax and delight in all there is to see as you pass by the magnificent structure.

  • Don’t forget your camera. There will be unique photo opportunities as you pass by Nashville’s Parthenon.