Last week we started our Nashville miniseries with a tour of some of the fantastic vintage typography around downtown. We continue today with a classic, must-see site for the Music City: Ryman Auditorium, original home to the Grand Ole Opry.
I highly recommend a visit to the Ryman Auditorium home of the Grand Ole Opry as one of the first stops when arriving in Nashville as you take in the downtown sites. It is just so iconic, and really grounds your trip to this city with all of its music history. (Not to be confused with the modern, current Opry House which is located beyond the downtown area near the Gaylord Hotel.)
Walking into this historic space, I was surprised at how much the seating made it feel like a church. But of course, it was originally built as a Gospel Tabernacle and since evolved to be known as the Mother Church of Country Music.
You can just imagine how hot and crowded it might have been when the crowds packed in before modern conveniences like air conditioning or electric fans.
But what stands out more than the comfort of the audience is the gorgeous detail and craftsmanship that went into this auditorium. The warm, worn wood seems to hold the eager patience of a thousand past audiences. The intensely colored stained glass inspiring nervous performers to add just a bit more intensity to their show tonight.
Seating upstairs presents an entirely different perspective – while the sound must have washed over the lower audience into those dark corners, certain pitches would have carried up and over, into the rafters.
And, of course, that most famous stage. As part of the tour you’re able to go up and share in the footsteps of so many talented performers. Shows still take place here on occasion, though most of the performances are in the newer space.
I remember our tour being mostly self-guided, beginning with a video and then followed by exhibits from the Opry’s heyday placed around the perimeter of the auditorium. Though, looking at the Opry’s current offerings, it seems that tour guides and even backstage tours are the norm now.
Regardless of how you experience the Ryman Auditorium home to the Grand Ole Opry, the space is somehow warm and yet imposing at the same time. Its sure to spark that potential that many hopefuls bring to the Music City that keep this tradition intact.
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