We finally made it to Greece! Not really, but we did make it to the replica Parthenon in Nashville, which is a close runner-up. The true Parthenon in Athens, Greece is probably the most important surviving building displaying Greek architecture in the world, and the one in Nashville shows the building in all it’s unblemished glory. If you go to the real one for the history, you go to the Nashville one to get a glimpse of what the building looked like on the outside when it was first built: it’s that detailed. It’s definitely like taking a step back in time almost 2500 years. Even more impressive, in my opinion, is that the replica is well over 100 years old already: that’s right, built in the waning years of the 1800’s.
The Nashville Parthenon sits in Music City’s Centennial Park, and another neat fact is that Nashville has a nickname of “Athens of the South.” The Parthenon was the centerpiece for the centennial celebration in Nashville, and the building was actually supposed to be a temporary structure. It was so popular, however, that they decided to refurbish it in a more permanent way, and it’s been used as a theater and museum since the very early 1900’s. They actually went to painstaking detail to make this version a replica of the true Greek one. Since the real Parthenon was attributed to the Greek goddess Athena, there were obviously statues and depictions of her in the real one that have disappeared or been damaged over the course of two millennia. The Nashville version has a replica of the “Athena Parthenos,” which is a large statue of Athena herself, and is one of the focal points of the inside. The real “Athena Parthenos” went missing from the actual Greek building sometime around 1,000 years ago, and the replica is said to be as faithful to the original as could be made from the information we currently have.
So you already know that the Nashville Parthenon sits inside Centennial Park, but what is Centennial Park? It’s equally massive, and encompasses various other statues, fields, Lake Watauga, a sunken garden, a dog park, and a ton of other things to do. It’s definitely a great place for a picnic, exercise, photographs, a history lesson, or just simply hanging out. The Parthenon itself now houses a museum, and any history or art buffs should take the time to explore the inside. That being said, just seeing the outside of this building is awe-inspiring.
While the Parthenon is definitely the focal point, you haver to check out the lake and sunken garden while you’re there. We were there in the middle of July, so much of the sunken garden was in bloom. Lake Watauga was super peaceful, and the views are simply outstanding. I will tell you this though, the pigeons (or as I like to call them: city chickens) are fearless. They walk right up to you, and if you step too quick towards them they’ll simply fly out over the water and turn right back in to glide in on you. They’re actually pretty cool, unlike most city chickens that take your food and then dip out.
The Parthenon and Centennial Park serve as a beautiful respite to the otherwise slightly chaotic (but fun) party scene that is often Nashville. Being there is almost like being in another city entirely: it’s simply relaxing. As a history buff, I loved seeing this beautiful building recreated in such a great and useful manner. It’s such a pleasure to see something so grand actually being utilized every day, not simply sitting off the beaten path as a reminder of a bygone time. Plus, what better backdrop than having a revitalized, ancient meeting spot while you study or hang out or do yoga? If you have some free time in Nashville and want to take a step back and relax a bit, the Parthenon and Centennial Park is the place to go. You won’t regret it. Did I mention it’s huge?