The South's Seat of Strange

The Batman building is only the beginning of Nashville's weirdness

Nashville Parthenon
••• Nashville's Parthenon shines in Centennial Park. Nashville Parks and Recreation

When you think of Nashville, the first thing you think of is probably country music. A close second, perhaps, is the fact that it's the capital of Tennessee. What you probably don't realize, however, is that Nashville is among the strangest cities in Tennessee and in the South as a whole. Search for devious dining, surreal shopping, abnormal attractions, or ghostly green spaces, and get ready to discover that Nashville is like nowhere else south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Freakish Food in Nashville

Although you'll find perfectly respectable restaurants inside many of Nashville's finest hotels, the fact is that many of Nashville's most memorable meals will give you nightmares. For example, when you dine at Prime 108, you're doing so in a building that many paranormal experts say is haunted by the ghost of a woman awaiting her lover's return from war.

The chicken at Hattie B's, on the other hand, takes you to heaven and hell at the same time. It's so spicy you feel like your mouth is on fire. While there aren't, as of this writing, any places in Nashville to eat extremely creepy food, such as spiders or scorpions, I wouldn't put it past Nashville to do this in the future, if I were you.

Bizarre Nashville Boutiques

With a name like Cool Stuff Weird Things, it's no surprise that this shop on Nashville's Charlotte Avenue leaves little to the imagination. Its cornucopia of kitsch and life-size Elvis sculpture greet you at the door, making this your one-stop shop for the weirdest decorations, music, and the funkiest furniture of yesteryear.

Speaking of the King, if it's rhinestone apparel you're after, look no further than Manuel, located on Broadway Street. The brainchild of a Mexican immigrant who designed a bunch of Elvis' original garb, Manuel slings bedazzled shirts and scarves—and, to be sure, a lot of other awesome swag—at surprisingly affordable prices.

If you're lucky, Manuel might even be on-site to talk about his amazing life story!

Nashville's Greece to Memphis' Graceland?

Now that I've mentioned Elvis several times, you're probably wondering if I accidentally wrote an article about Memphis instead of Nashville. The answer is no, although it's difficult not to draw parallels between the concrete Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park and Memphis' Graceland, even if the inspiration behind the former is of a more classical sort than the latter.

To be sure, the planners of the exposition honoring Tennessee's 100 years as a state were several decades ahead of Elvis, to say nothing of the differences in design. Interestingly, although Nashville's Parthenon is an unabashed replica, the plaster here was directly cast from the original, which means that among the world's fake Parthenon's (not sure how many there are), this must be one of the best. 

A Statesman's Subtle Sepulcher

It's not just the ghost of the King that haunts Nashville. The ghost of a president does, too, as President James K. Polk's final resting place is located a stone's throw from the Tennessee Capitol Building in downtown Nashville. Polk is famous for having died about 100 days after leaving office, which could be the reason that some visitors to his admittedly modest tomb report feeling chills or even hearing whispers as they pass the monument.

Of course, none of this is to say you can't enjoy yourself in Nashville with a show at the Grand Ole Opry or a stroll along the Cumberland River. Then again, as you walk along the water you'll probably notice that the towering AT&T Building looks like something out of Batman, which brings us back to where we started. When you boil it all down, Nashville is just weird!