We are back from our TN/NC adventure! It was good to see family and we had a fabulous time. We did and saw a TON during the 9 days we were gone, but I think one of the highlights for me was getting to see the Biltmore Estate, the grand French Chateauesque mansion built by George W. Vanderbilt II in the late 1800s. The property spans over 8000 acres and includes some of the most beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Pisgah National Forest. The house itself has 250 rooms (we got to see approximately 40 of them) and encompasses almost 180,000 square feet. It has been established as the largest privately-owned residence in the US.
Being a history nerd, I knew I would love it, but there is something about being there in person… I told Tadd that while we were on property, I almost felt like we were in a real life fairy tale. This is about as close to European castle as you are going to get on American soil. And being Downton Abbey fans, Tadd and I could not help but make comparisons. Especially when we got to the kitchen and the servants areas. However, I think my favorite room of all had to be the unbelievable dining hall. I think I remember the tour audio mentioning that the room itself is about 7 stories tall. The fireplace alone is mindbogglingly enormous, and is technically three fireplaces in one. You can see a small photo of it here, although to truly get the scale of it, you really have to see it in person.
We took a ton of pictures while we were there, but only of the exterior, since photography was not allowed indoors. Please know that the photos do this place zero justice, and if you ever have the opportunity to visit this place, I highly urge you to do so. Between the interior tour, walking around the grounds, with lunch and shopping in the middle, this can easily take up an entire day or more. We still wanted to see more (including the on site winery!) but I figure it gives us a reason to go back. And I promise, I will be back! I would love to go at Christmas time. The house debuted on Christmas Eve 1895, so Christmas is kind of a big deal here. They also have specialized tours (focused on architecture, landscaping, even one specifically about the lives of the “help”) that give you exclusive access not granted on the standard tour, so I would love to take one or two of those as well. See? Lots of reasons to go back!
Here are some of my favorite shots from the day, which is a lot of them because pretty much everywhere you look is some astonishingly beautiful sight, large or small (makes it very very easy to pretend to be a “good” photographer…heh):