I love beautiful architecture, don't you? I enjoy visiting mansions, castles, cathedrals, and all manner of historic buildings, imagining the tools, the workers, the plans that went into building it. I mean, some of those ancient structures, built without modern technology, are A-mazing!
Such was the case when I first laid eyes on the Parthenon in Nashville. To be quite honest, I was overwhelmed by what I saw on that first-of-many visits. I haven't had the privilege of visiting Athens, Greece where the original Parthenon rises on the Acropolis, dominating the skyline of the city, but it's on my bucket list. I imagine it is beyond breathtaking to see in person! All that history and beauty. Someday!!
Thankfully, we don't have to travel around the globe to get a glimpse of the Parthenon...or, I should say, its lookalike.
Back in January 2019, I shared about the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, a World's Fair-type event held from May to October, 1897. The city of Nashville's contribution to the celebration was the magnificent Parthenon, because the city was known as the "Athens of the South." It still stands today and welcomes visitors from around the world--even from Greece!
Because I became so fascinated with Nashville's Parthenon and the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, I set my new novel, Count the Nights by Stars, there. It's a split-time story, so the characters in 1897 attend the expo and, of course, spend time at the Parthenon. I had great fun taking day trips down to Centennial Park where I imagined my characters walking the paths of the park, riding on an Italian gondola on Lake Watauga, or resting in the shade of the enormous porticos of the Parthenon.
But after researching, writing, and publishing the book, I realized something.
I don't know a whole lot about the real Parthenon.
Well, we're going to change that right now!
Over time the Parthenon was used by pagans, Christians (in the sixth century) and Muslims (in the fifteenth century). It has suffered fires, earthquake damage, explosions, and looting. In Acts 17:16-34, the Apostle Paul is in Athens. Can't you just imagine him there at the Parthenon, sharing the Good News?
|The southern side of the Parthenon, which sustained considerable damage in an explosion in 1687. Wikipedia|
One of my favorite things about the Nashville Parthenon are the sculptures on the pediments (end gables). Not quite as incredible as the originals (seen below), they still give visitors an idea of how breathtakingly beautiful the Greek structure truly was.
|Sculptures from the original east pediment, British Museum|
|Nashville Parthenon east pediment|
In the 1920s, the Nashville Parthenon was falling into disrepair Like all the other wonderful buildings that were constructed for the 1897 exposition, it had originally been made with temporary materials. After the 6-month run of the expo, all the buildings were either torn down or moved...except for the Parthenon. The city decided to save it and it was completely rebuilt using concrete.
I for one am extremely grateful it was saved!
Your turn: Have you been to the original Parthenon in Athens? Is it on your bucket list?
Michelle Shocklee is the author of several historical novels, including Under the Tulip Tree, a Christy Awards and Selah Awards finalist. Her work has been included in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazines, and blogs. Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of two grown sons, she makes her home in Tennessee, not far from the historical sites she writes about. Visit her online at www.MichelleShocklee.com
COUNT THE NIGHTS BY STARS