The Parthenon in Centennial Park, Nashville, as seen from Lake Watauga. (Photo by Betsy)
(Note: All pictures may be enlarged by clicking on them.)
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The centerpiece of Nashville’s Centennial Park is an exact replica of the Parthenon of ancient Greece.
The northeast corner of the Parthenon in Centennial Park.
In 1895 Tennessee wanted to find a way to celebrate the centennial of its statehood (which would occur in 1896), and they decided on a centennial exposition to be held in Nashville. At that time Nashville was known as the Athens of the South, so an exact replica of the Parthenon in Athens would be the pinnacle of the Grand Exposition. The Parthenon was the first building put up for the exposition and it set the theme for the 36 other buildings that were constructed.
Since only a year was allowed for putting the Exposition together, all of the buildings were constructed using materials that would survive only through the Exposition.
Moving toward the eastern side of the Parthenon.
Because of bureaucratic red tape, the Grand Centennial Exposition didn’t open until 1897, one year after the statehood celebration. Even with the delayed opening the Centennial Celebration was a huge success, with over 1.8 million visitors over a 6-month period. Within two years of the close of the Centennial Exposition only three buildings remained, including the Parthenon.
The east side of the Parthenon. Notice the intricate reliefs of the pediment above the columns.
The ‘temporary’ Parthenon lasted for 23 years. In 1920, because of the popularity of the Parthenon, the city of Nashville began an eleven-year project of replacing the temporary materials with permanent materials. This reconstructed building is the one that stands today.
The Parthenon as seen from the southeast corner.
Nashville’s Parthenon in the only full-sized replica in the world. The 7-ton bronze doors are the largest in the world, and the statue of Athena is the largest indoor statue in the western hemisphere. The pediment reliefs on the east and west sides of the Parthenon were created by direct casts of the originals, which are now in the British Museum of Art.