Exploring The Biltmore
Sure, they like to call it an "estate" and toss around stats like "America's largest private home" and "it sits on 8,000 acres".
But in reality, it's just your typical two-bedroom condo with 1.5 baths, a faux marble island, and a walk-in closet.
Or is it?
Okay, it might be just a hair bigger than a condo. :-)
Completed in 1895, this 250-room chateau was built for George and Edith Vanderbilt, heirs to a vast fortune from steamboats, railroads, and other family businesses.
At 178,926 square feet, spanning three floors and a basement, the house is decorated to the hilt with displays of vintage clothing, accessories, art, furniture, and more, that tell stories and illustrate the lives of the Vanderbilt family, their guests, and employees.
The home is now open year-round for visitors to explore. Like us!
As we walked through the house, our eyes feasted on original art by Renoir, 16th century tapestries, a library with 10,000 volumes, a banquet hall with a 70-foot ceiling, 65 fireplaces, among other delights.
Almost all of the objects on display are from George and Edith Vanderbilt’s original collection.
One of the first rooms you see is this courtyard, enlivened with tropical plants and natural light. I love the ceiling and light fixtures.
The next room is magnificent, from the ornate artwork on the ceiling, to the scores of books, the statement fireplace, and the furnishings I just want to curl up in... this was my favorite room.
Speaking of furnishings:
I was surprised to see how chic furniture from more than a century ago could be; it wouldn't be out of place in modern decor. Though it's antique, it still has a bit of contemporary sass to it, doesn't it?
One of the dining rooms:
And sitting rooms:
Where I learned that I'm nowhere near bold enough with my rugs and tapestry choices:
Mesmerizing molding on the ceiling:
A canopy bed for a rather small person.
A powder room inside a bedroom.
And rooms for recreation and merriment.
At this point, I got caught up in looking with my eyes rather than my camera, so if you want to see more, I'd say Biltmore is worth a visit.
Because we haven't even explored the grounds yet!
When I saw this view from the rooftop, my mind harked back to Elizabeth Bennett's first visit to Pemberley when she gently mused to herself, "Of all this I could've been mistress." (You'd have to be a fan of Pride & Prejudice to follow that one.)
Spectacular vistas of the surrounding estate.
And a closer look at the turrets and gargoyles.
Keen to explore the gardens, we made our way outside.
Passing fountains with lily pads and playful coy.
And following our noses to the flowers.
I think you could amble among the gardens pathways for quite some time, spotting sweet elements like the grapes growing overhead:
Adorable little nooks
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And tunnels that pique your imagination.
As hunger began to get the best of us, we decided to head near the estate's winery for a bite to eat and some samples.
The estate is so huge you have to drive to get there. Drive for several minutes.
Wending our way through the cool, cavernous wine cellar with historical photos along the path
And ending with a wine sample in this Biltmore-imprinted glass:
Happily satiated, we poked around the gift shop for a minute
before coming across a field of sunflowers outside.
And even spied a camouflaging butterfly:
Bidding soft adieus as we followed the sun on our way back to Atlanta.