Asheville Day 2: Biltmore

Biltmore is considered by most as America’s only castle. With building construction beginning in 1889 and lasting over 6 years, 1000 workers crafted this majestic residence. Two architects worked in concert to produce this amazing property. Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame created the outside landscaping and gardens, and Richard Morris Hunt, the architect of the home. While assessed on tax rolls at $64 million it is priceless and pricey to visit but well worth the fee as the visit is captivating and one you will never forget.

After obtaining tickets to the venue there is a long drive to the home through forested lands. It is amazing to think in 1896 this was desolate farmland recreated as a forest on Olmsted’s recommendation.

The forest continues as you walk to the mansion from the parking lot. Then the awesome structure appears at the end of a grassy courtyard. Walking closer to the entry large stone lions greet you as doors open into a foyer of plants with a domed ceiling.

From the spectacular entry walk to the dining room where George and Edith Vanderbilt dined with their guests on 6 to 10 course meals.

In the library is George’s immense collection of books. He also entertained great authors and poets in this room discussing their works. If only walls could talk.

Then there is the room housing priceless tapestries..

And take a glimpse at George’s bedroom..

Next visit the exquisite gardens, greenhouses, and forest. Stroll the many many trails. You will understand why George chose this spot to build.

Tours are timed for entry with limited numbers of visitors allowed making for a comfortable visit. Audio tours are an additional cost but well worth the price. Purchase your tickets on line a week prior to visit for savings. There are interesting back stage tours given by docents. Read the bios to see what fits your desires and interest. It takes at least 90 minutes to view the 39 rooms and spaces for tour in the home. There are docents in each room to answer questions. Christmas is the best time of year for visit as Biltmore glows with festive decor.

Bathrooms are not available in the house so to ensure a comfortable visit take care of those needs prior to visit. Walk past the entry doors of the home to a complex which has food, retail, and bathroom facilities. Here there is much to buy, eat, and sample. Wine tasting is included in the price of admission, however the larger tasting is available off-site at the Antler Hill Village and Winery. Here there is also a small animal farm for children, interesting trains, and a museum explaining more of the Vanderbilt’s life.

To make every aspect of your tour a valuable experience pick up a copy of “Your Visit to Biltmore,” which is available through the Asheville on line services. Also, investigate the extensive Biltmore web site for all specifics and needs. I highly recommend reading information on the Vanderbilt family prior to visit. This will make your visit even more valuable.

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