Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park is a great site for visitors to the city and city natives alike to learn more about Tennessee and the state’s history. The park sits on 11 acres at the bottom of the capitol building hill close to the many sites and sounds of the downtown neighborhood. Grab a bite to eat at the Nashville Farmers’ Market next door or expand your curiosity after your visit by heading to the nearby TN State Museum. This conveniently located park features many monuments and opportunities for education as visitors explore different facets of Tennessee state history.
The park’s land itself holds a rich history. As part of the French Lick, the swampy landscape the park occupies attracted indigenous Americans and settlers to the area for its abundance of wildlife. The wet ground also made the area unsuitable for skyscraper infrastructure- preserving the area from development in Nashville’s downtown expansion.
In 1996, Tennessee’s Bicentennial Celebration was held at the park. The style of the park’s features and monuments are modeled off of those at the National Mall in Washington D.C. Today, the site is a great place to explore the state’s history, go for a stroll, or host large events.
Park Monuments and Features
Bicentennial Park has several notable monuments and features that visitors can view as they walk the .9 mile loop through the park.
Rivers of Tennessee Fountains
A first notable feature of the park is the Rivers of Tennessee fountains. Learn more about the waterways of the state and cool off on a hot Nashville summer day in these 31 fountains! Dedicated to the state’s major rivers, tributaries, and lakes, the fountains spew water straight up from the ground like geysers. Each fountain is inscribed with details about the waterway and its history. Lit up in various colors at night, these fountains are both a beautiful feature of the park and educate visitors on Tennessee’s great waterways.
Granite State Map
Another grand feature of the park is a 200 foot long granite map of the state. This giant map serves as an accurate representation of Tennessee’s geography, including every city, county, river, major roads, and railways throughout the state. 8 smaller maps positioned below the largest detail additional information about the state’s cultural history.
Court of Three Stars and Carillion
The Court of Three Stars and Carillon, located at the north end of the park, stands out as a spectacular viewing and auditory experience. A stone replica of the Tennessee state flag lies on the ground at The Court of Three stars, surrounded by a 95-bell Carillon. The bells, located within 50 Greek-style columns, play the Tennessee state song at the top of each hour. Visitors can immerse themselves in this experience by standing in the center of the bells, surrounding themselves with their sound.
At the opposite end of the park, visitors will find the Tennessee amphitheater. Looking out onto a stunning view of the State Capitol building and the Nashville skyline, the 2,000 seat amphitheater provides a setting for concerts, plays, and other events. Many state and regional events are hosted at the amphitheater, which can be rented out by private parties for a fee.
Other Monuments and Features
The park also includes various other monuments and features commemorating aspects of Tennessee history, geography, and culture. The Walkway of the Counties features markers of each of the state’s counties, along with planters filled with floral species native to the state. The park’s Pathway of history features a 1,400-foot-long wall inscribed with significant events in Tennessee’s history, from its founding to the bicentennial celebration. The Sulphur Springs Monument symbolizes the wetlands and wildlife of the state with three fountains flowing into a rock garden.
There are even more monuments and relics of history to discover at the park! Check the park’s website for more details and information. The park also serves as a popular site for educational field trips and events, such as weddings. The website provides more details on bookings and resources for these events, as well.