A Wheel and Away

Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park, TN

Nashville, Tennessee

This 19 acre park, located in Nashville’s downtown area and just north of the Tennessee State Capitol, is a pleasant green space offering a welcome respite, along with a healthy dollop of history on the way.  It was originally opened on 1 June 1996. to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of Tennessee’s admission into the Union.

It serves to provide visitors with an insight into the history, culture and the natural beauty of the state and as such there are many elements throughout the park which offer interest.

In the middle of the park is the Tennessee amphitheatre.  This boasts 2000 seats and an impressive view of the Capitol.  Events are held here throughout the year such as outdoor theatre shows and concerts.

At the Northern End is the Court of Three Stars,  a circular plaza made of red, white, and blue granite, with three stars representing the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee – East, Middle and West.  Encircling the plaza are 50 Greek style columns which contain a 95 bell carillon, to represent every one of Tennessee’s counties.  Every fifteen minutes they play an excerpt from the Tennessee Waltz, playing the full tune, every hour, on the hour.

There is a particularly poignant World War II Memorial close to this – a huge black granite globe dominates the scene, flanked by large standing stones with information about the war and the part that Tennessee played in it.  The memorial displays many gold stars, to represent all the mothers who gave up their sons to the war.  There is also a buried time capsule, due to be opened on 11 November 2045.

The park also boasts a 200ft wide granite map of the Volunteer state, the Tennessee Map Plaza, which illustrates in great detail the geography of the state.  Visitors can look at the 31 fountains of the Rivers of Tennessee water feature.  Maybe wander along the Pathway of History, offering an insight into the rich cultural heritage.

Of particular note is the Walkway of Counties.  Running along the outer edge of the park, all of the 95 counties are represented by a gold mark in 95 individual maps of Tennessee.  Underneath each of these, every county has buried a time capsule which will not be unearthed until 2096.

There are still more monuments to see but the park also offers a glorious spot just to relax with an impressive view of the Capitol perched on top of a nearby hill.

General accessibility information

With paved walkways running all the way around, the park is completely accessible to wheelchair users.

The visitor centre and gift shop are all accessible and there are disabled bathroom facilities available.