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Nashville: More Than Music

by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

If you think Nashville's only claim to fame is country music, you'd be mistaken. Like a radiant engagement ring, this Tennessee city is multi-faceted and makes an excellent honeymoon destination year round. Apart from it's famous musical legacy, Nashville is home to history and a wide variety of attractions.

Begin at the well-appointed VIC, or Visitor Information Center, in the glass tower of the Gaylord Center at the corner of Fifth and Broadway. You can obtain bus and trolley schedules, maps, and all the necessary information to make your visit hassle-free. Also located within the Gaylord Center is the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, an attraction the groom may wish to peruse for an hour or so.

If you need evidence as to why Nashville is often referred to as the Athens of the South, look no further than Centennial Park. There you'll find the world's only full-scale reproduction of the Parthenon. True to it's predecessor, this well-known Greek Temple contains an extraordinary 42-foot high statue of Athena, making her the largest piece of indoor sculpture in the Western World. According to ancient legend, she was the goddess of wisdom, prudent warfare and the arts.

Sure to take your breath away, this version of the mighty Athena holds Nike, the winged goddess of victory in her out-stretched hand. From below it's hard to believe the standing statue of Nike is the height of your average man, about six feet. It's certainly doesn't look it. The sheer size and special lighting, not to mention the fine craftsmanship, make Athena a truly remarkable figure.

But why such a temple in a southern American town you might ask? The City of Nashville first undertook the construction of a replica of the Parthenon to house the international art exhibition for the 1897 Centennial Expo. Although it was never meant to be a permanent building, the local residents came to love the Greek temple. City officials had the structure re-built utilizing more enduring materials and it opened in 1931. Find more information at www.parthenon.org.

Known as Nashville's National Treasure, and the House That Love Built, allow at least one half day to visit The Hermitage. The home of President Andrew Jackson, this expansive cotton plantation was the place "Old Hickory" loved best. To lay the groundwork for your tour, begin with their short film located inside the museum.

The Greek Revival style mansion is the centerpiece of the large estate. Jackson's beloved wife Rachel selected the spot, which is now a National Historic Landmark. But sadly, Rachel died in December of 1828, shortly after her husband's election as President, but before his inauguration. The General, as he preferred to be called, went to Washington as a widower. Theirs were a true love story still talked about to this day. You can see Rachel's tomb, and that of Jackson on the grounds.

In the summer months you can watch archaeologists at work. The Hermitage is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Go to www.thehermitage.com for additional information.

If you do want to learn a bit more about country music while in Nashville, the new Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opens May 2001. The building design itself and the contents tell the story of one of America's most popular musical art forms. They have it all, including stage costumes, musical instruments, artwork, correspondence, film, photography and much more. The 37-million dollar project occupies a city block near the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry's most important home. Their website is www.countrymusichalloffame.com.

For an escape from the mundane world, book your lodging at the Opryland Hotel and request a room in their section known as "The Delta." This hotel is almost a destination in itself. The 4.5 acre glass-roofed interiorscape contains an abundance of tropical plants and a river system complete with boat tours. In addition, the Opryland Hotel is home to thirty retail shops and has over 2880 guest rooms.

If time allows, other Nashville options include: The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Belle Meade, known as the Queen of Tennessee Plantations, Opry Mills, a shopping and entertainment complex, General Jackson Showboat, the Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel, or Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art.

For assistance in planning your Nashville honeymoon, surf to www.NashvilleCVB.com.


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