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Biltmore Estate (North Carolina, USA)

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Address: Asheville / North Carolina / USA

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      17.10.2009 08:31
      Very helpful



      A delightful French style chateau in America.

      The Biltmore Estate.

      The Biltmore Estate is situated in the East Coast state of North Carolina in the USA. Situated near Ashville it is reputed to be Americas Largest Home.

      The Estate belongs to the Vanderbilt family whose patriarch was Cornelius Vanderbilt who was the tenth richest men in the world and his fortune was estimated to be worth $1, 67.4 billion dollars. They gained their fortune from building railroads and shipping and owned a sizeable amount of Manhattan having massive Mansions built on Fifth Avenue, New York. They originated from Holland from the Village of Bilt.

      The Biltmore Estate was bought by George Washington Biltmore who decided he wanted to build an opulent summer house like the rest of his brothers. In total the estate covered an area of 125,000 acres and has farms, a dairy, school, Inns, prime farmland, vine yard and winery, forests, rivers and streams and an equestrian centre. The word Biltmore is made up of two words Bilt representing the town they originated from back in the Netherlands and More an old English word meaning Hall.

      George employed the services of architect Richard Morris Hunt who had built previous Vanderbilt mansions to design the house that was like a French Châteaux.
      The house was started in 1888 and took 6 years to build and was finally ready for Christmas in 1895. Christmas saw for the first time invited guests of the Vanderbilt's closest friends who were stunned by the opulence they encountered during their stay. The house itself covers a total of 35 acres and has 250 rooms. The estate employed thousands of workers in the construction of the house and the running of the estate so homes shops and schools were built to house the workers and their family throughout the estate. Today the Estate is only 8,000 acres and is run by one of the descendents of George Vanderbilt as a company under the leadership of William Vanderbilt Cecil II.

      The house.

      The house looks quite out of place in the United States but it is unique and a beautiful building on top of a hill with outstanding views and vistas as far as the eye can see. In front of the house there is a massive lawned area with a fountain and pond leading up to the house. It is a magnificent looking building from the outside and it is much akin to a Chateau in the Loire valley. The inside is something else all together.

      This was the height of opulence inside the house there was a massive banqueting hall, smoking room, formal drawing rooms, a library containing 10, 000 books, 35 guest bedrooms, and an indoor bowling alley, 70,000 gallon swimming pool, and all rooms are filled with valuable antiques for example the chess set that once belonged to Napoleon and precious art by the old masters, including Rembrandt and Reuben's. There are priceless statues and ornaments of porcelain, marble, bronze and ivory. The rooms are richly decorated and adorned by paintings and silk wall coverings. It was a house very much ahead of its time. Elevators were installed an air blown heating system, centrally controlled clocks and an intercom system.

      George Vanderbilt travelled the world bringing back with him countless works of art priceless treasures and beautiful furniture of the highest quality but he insisted that the house was a home and not a museum and all things were to be used for the purpose for which they were made.

      The grand staircase has 102 stairs that sweeps down to a massive reception area. Upstairs there are roof top terraces and balconies which give way to spectacular views over the estate. The house was unique in that it as it had running hot water, electricity and all the most up to date modern cons of its time. It was years ahead of other properties from around that time. Each room had a roaring log fire. There was an indoor winter garden with a wooden glass domed roof which is full of plants and flowers.

      The servant's quarters were right down in the basement area and were some of the more sumptuous rooms to be known by any servant. The servant's conditions of work were exceptional for the day. They were linked by intercom to the upper house and also bells when service was required. Each servant either shared a room with one other person or depending on their status in their pecking order they may have had their very own room for example the senior butler, head cook, housekeeper, stores man. The servants were very well treated during their time at Biltmore. The below stairs was a hive of activity with the laundry and kitchens working all day long to provide the family with whatever they needed. It operated like a massive company ensuring everything worked like clockwork. The estate was practically self sufficient growing their own fruit veg and meat from the estate farms.

      The house has featured in many films namely Forest Gump, National treasure and Hannibal to name a few.

      The gardens and grounds.

      The grounds of the house are particularly beautiful and the landscape is such that it is very pleasing on the eye. Games were played on the grand lawn in front of the house and hunting riding and game shooting took place in the grounds and forests.

      There are 75 acres formal gardens laid out and manicured lawns, a large water pond in the middle of the lawn in front of the house. A massive parterre with an abundance of colour was designed and constructed which is maintained to this day. There is a massive orangery and greenhouse for propagating the plants. There is a fifteen acre Azalea garden and various formal and natural plots around the estate. An Italian garden and herb garden the list is endless. There is a massive Japanese wisteria hanging from one of the terraces.

      Dotted around the estate are statues and pergolas with wonderful walks in the woods and forests of all types of tree you can imagine. Along the avenue to reach the house it is three miles long and was an avenue of trees on either side of the road. It took an hour by carriage to drive the three miles from the gate house to the main house.


      * A working farm yard.
      * River bend farm where you can see innovative techniques of forestry, farming,
      * Horticulture they used in the last century.
      * A visit to the winery for tasting and the wine shop.
      * Horse riding.
      * Carriage riding.
      * Fishing.
      * River trips.
      * Land rover off road driving.
      * Clay shooting.
      * Hiking
      * Biking.
      * Deer Park

      Throughout the year there are a variety of activities such as

      * Summer fetes.
      * Flower festivals.
      * Easter egg hunt.
      * Summer evening concerts
      * Exhibitions
      * Field to table festival
      * Fall at Biltmore
      * Christmas festivals.
      * Candle lit dinners
      * Weddings
      * Private functions

      Price of entry.

      Currently the entrance price is $55 but if booked on line you can save $8.
      From November the price is $60 or $52 if booked on line.

      An annual ticket is an extra $40 allowing you free access throughout the year,

      A stay at the Inn on Biltmore estate ranges from $199 Monday to Friday or $299 at the weekends includes admission ticket.

      There are also 1,2 and 3 day packages ranging from a romantic package, Spa break, massage break, Learn to drive a range rover and fly fishing.

      Hours of opening.

      The grounds are open from 08:30AM to 19:00PM
      The house is open from 09:00AM to 16:30PM

      The facilities are open at various times throughout the day.

      Where is it?
      The Biltmore estate is in the blue ridge mountains of North Carolina which can be reached by air and finally by road. There is an airport at Ashville with connections to many American cities.

      By Road.

      Ashville North Carolina.
      Exit junction 50, 50B off the Inter State highway 40

      1 Approach Road

      NC 28803
      North Carolina.
      Telephone:800-411-3812 for information & reservations.

      There is a fantastic web site which can give you a glimpse on all it has to offer.


      My opinion.

      The estate is absolutely massive and you could spend a couple of days here exploring the house and the grounds. There are so many activities you can participate in. It is really beautiful and there is such a welcoming from the staff especially when they know you are from the UK. I would recommend anyone to make a visit to this fantastic place not only to see the magnificent house and priceless art collections but also the brilliant landscaped gardens, forests and lakes.

      I hope you have enjoyed reading this review and if you ever get the chance to visit this historical house it should be on your must do list.


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