We spent a day at the Biltmore Estate. George Vanderbilt constructed Biltmore in the late 1800s. He was inspired by many of the French castles, chateaus and manor houses he had visited in his European travels. The mansion is decorated with all of the gilding one could expect from the American industrial barons of the time. It was also fully electric and plumbed with running water. Ammenities included an indoor winter garden, a 7-story tall grand dining hall, a heated-indoor pool, an indoor gym, an indoor bowling alley, and more guest suits than some hotels. It is the apex of Victorian American extravagance. The estate was also the anchor of George Vanderbilt's 120,000+ acres. Today the estate is a mere 8,000 acres of its original size. A good portion of the estate eventually became Pisgah National Forest, as one of George Vanderbilt's contributions was the founding of modern forestry in the country.
The Vanderbilts collected countless artworks for Biltmore. There are medieval tapestries, Napolean's chess set and chess table, thousands of books including rare first editions, and of course many, many paintings. It is quite a sight to behold.
The estate's gardens were designed by the same landscape architect that designed New York City's Central Park. The gardens are still maintained today and showcase many species of flowers, trees, and shrubbery. They are particularly inspiring in the Spring when the Estate holds its Festival of Flowers.
While we were at the estate the weather was mostly overcast with periodic rain showers. We still got to walk around the gardens though as the rain stayed away most of the time we were outside. The overcast skies made photography difficult throughout the Estate. I would have liked to have photographed some of the interior, but they don't don't allow photography inside.
© Craig A. Lee