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Travels in Tennessee: Nashville's Parthenon & Statue of Athena, Goddess of War

Travels in Tennessee: Nashville's Parthenon & Statue of Athena, Goddess of War

January 2020 · 3 min read · Tennessee

Parthenon Nashville, Tennessee
Parthenon Nashville, Tennessee

A Full Scale Replica

In Nashville, Tennessee for a celebratory birthday weekend for my oldest daughter, I was able to break away for a day of solo sightseeing. Since I'm not really a country music fan, I wasn't interested in many of the top tourist attractions on the Nashville strip. However, at the top of my list was a visit to the Parthenon, just a mile, or so, walk from my hotel.

Nashville's Parthenon, built in 1897, is a full-scale replica of the ancient Parthenon in Athens, Greece, which was started in 447 BC. Erected during the celebration of Tennessee's Centennial, it resulted in Nashville earning the nickname 'the Athens of the South.'

The Real Thing

Original Parthenon  Athens, Greece
Original Parthenon Athens, Greece

A special allure for me was that I had just been to the ancient Parthenon in Athens just eight month's earlier. Relatively fresh from that journey, I was intrigued to see what the Parthenon may have originally looked like, including insight into the interior of this ancient edifice.

Seeing the full roof, pediments, and adornments as they likely appeared before falling into ruin over the centuries, added deeper understanding to the magnitude of this archeological achievement.

Inside, it is a little easier to judge the sheer size of the structure.

Athena, Goddess of War

The Statue of Athena
The Statue of Athena

Inside the ancient Parthenon stood the sculpture of Athena, Greek Goddess of Warfare. Lost to history, a series of replicas survived from which the Nashville replica was designed and constructed. At 40 feet high, it completely dominates the interior of the temple, just as the original did.

Athena, Greek Goddess of Warfare
Athena, Greek Goddess of Warfare

Once covered with ivory and gold, the image of Athena is inspiring in both its size and splendor. Originally a plain statue, real gold leaf was added to Athena in 2002. The coloring and gold leaf add a dramatic effect, and speaks to how the original statue of Athena appeared.

Standing at the feet of the statue, I had a taste of what it might have been like for Athenians to worship Athena in the temple of Parthenon.

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Athena's Golden Shield
Athena's Golden Shield

Casts & Models

Casts and Models used in construction
Casts and Models used in construction

Behind the statue of Athena is a small area dedicated to the display of plaster casts and models used in designing and building Nashville's Parthenon. These casts of the remaining pieces of the pediment in Greece, were used to recreate the entire pediment for Tennessee's replica.

Art Museum & Entry

Underneath the Parthenon is an art museum. It features many artifacts from Tennessee's Centennial, including the history and backstory of the designers, architects, engineers, and other notables responsible for the erection of the Parthenon.

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The entrance fee to the interior of Nashville's Parthenon was only $6. I found the view of Athena to be well worth the cost by itself. The art museum is nice, but the anteroom featuring the plaster casts and models was sensational.

Overall, I spent about two hours walking around and inside the Parthenon. For those of you visiting Nashville to see the bars, Grand Ole Opry, and other sites, a side trip to the Parthenon is highly recommended.


All photos are original.
All photos are original.

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