Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Biltmore Estate

I went to the Biltmore Estate last weekend.

Here is the Biltmore House. It occupies 4 acres of land and has 250 rooms. It is the largest privately owned home in America.

Designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt (designer of New York's Flat Iron building) construction was begun in 1889 and completed in 1895. George Vanderbilt officially opened the house to family and guests on Christmas Eve in 1895. The house is a grand monument to what can be done in a nation without an income tax.

This view shows the carriage house. It now houses a restaurant and shops. There is a cobblestone courtyard with food vendors.

Having an annual pass allows you to visit and shop, photograph and explore the grounds as often as you wish. I only enter the House itself about one out of four visits.

The white tent is where you get your timed entry pass. On the heaviest traffic days they make you reserve a time so that the inside doesn't become packed with people.

I can't show you any pictures of the interior as no photography is allowed inside. You can see some photographs at the Biltmore Estate website.

Here is the line to enter. On most days there is no line. You just walk in the door and show your ticket.

This was the Saturday before Easter Sunday. This is one of the busiest days of the year, what with the Easter egg hunt.

As many people as there are it never manages to look crowded because it is just so big.

Every August this there is a series of evening concerts on this terrace. In the past Bruce Hornsby and Alison Krauss & Union Station have performed.

The great thing about a venue like this is that after the show you can meet and speak with the artists.

Now we're heading down to the gardens. The grounds were created by the great Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed New York's Central Park. Olmsted was the father of American Landscape Architecture. Olmsted established the nation's first scientifically managed forest on the Biltmore Estate. The Estate originally covered 125000 acres.

The Estate's wildlife biologists had set up a display of some of the animals, plants and insects that live in the area. The stars were a pair of groundhogs. These animals are bred in captivity and acclimated to human contact. Do not try to pet wild animals. They will run away and if you corner them they will attack.

Here is the Walled Garden. The April Festival of Flowers features tulips.

The building in the distance is the conservatory.

Conservatory is a fancy way of saying greenhouse.

Here is a close up of some of the tulips. These are some of the largest tulips that I've ever run

Here is the view of the house from the grounds just above the Walled Garden. Walking the trails and gardens it is easy to forget that you aren't in just another park, albeit a well maintained one. Then you look up and see this.

That's all I have for today. If you are ever in the Asheville area a trip to the Estate will not be a waste of your time.