More than a century ago, Nashville was nicknamed the “Athens of the South,” thanks to its plethora of institutions of higher learning. It might make more sense, then, that the city built a full-scale replica of the ancient Parthenon in Athens to celebrate the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Today the structure functions as an art museum with a permanent collection of 63 paintings by American artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. The site also draws architecture buffs looking for a better feel for the scale and scope of the Parthenon, the original of which lies in ruins in Greece
. There are plaster casts of the famous Elgin marbles that once decorated the exterior, and in 1990, the museum commissioned a 42-foot-high replica of the original gilt Athena Parthenos statue. The museum is located in the center of the lush, pond-filled Centennial Park, which is worth an afternoon stroll.