USA // The South //



Set on a bluff by the Cumberland River amid the gentle hills and farmlands of central Tennessee, sprawling NASHVILLE attracts millions of visitors each year. The majority come for the country music, whether at mainstream showcases like the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, or in the funkier honky-tonks found not only downtown but also in Nashville’s many neighbourhoods.

Behind the rhinestone glitter and showbiz exists a conservative, hard-working city; one that for the visitor is less immediately accessible than those other great music cities, Memphis and New Orleans. Nashville has been the leading settlement in middle Tennessee since Fort Nashborough was established in 1779, and state capital since 1843. It is now a major financial and insurance centre and a seriously religious place: there are more churches per head here than anywhere else in the nation. Rapid development since World War II has transformed the town into a maze-like conurbation, stretching out in all directions along the undulating roads known as pikes. While there are hip little neighbourhoods ripe for discovery, most visitors will enjoy themselves most by launching full-tilt into what “Nash Vegas” is best known for: the flash and fun of country music.