What is the Capital of Tennessee?

Fountain at the Symphony Place in Nashville, TN
Fountain at the Symphony Place in Nashville, TN

The capital of Tennessee is Nashville, having become the permanent capital in 1843.

Within this post, we will talk about where exactly the capital of Tennessee is located, a brief history of Nashville, when and why it became the capital, and some fun things to do in the area.

Where Is The Capital Of Tennessee Located?

Where Is The Capital Of Tennessee Located
Where Is The Capital Of Tennessee Located

The capital of Tennessee is located in Nashville. It is geographically located in the south-eastern region of the United States, sharing a border with Kentucky in the north, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama in the south, North Carolina in the east, and Arkansas in the south-west.

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The closest city to Nashville is Brentwood (17 kilometers away), with the nearest town being Oak Hill (12.1 kilometers away). Nashville is close to the Alabama state border, with the nearest Alabama city being Birmingham (308.8 kilometers away).

The largest city in Tennessee is Memphis, although the capital city of Tennessee is Nashville.

Brief History of the City of Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee, USA downtown skyline on the Cumberland River.
Nashville, Tennessee, USA downtown skyline on the Cumberland River.

Nashville is a very interesting capital and has a long history. Dating back to around 1000AD, the area which is currently known as ‘Nashville’ first housed Indians from Mississippi. This community grew corn, created intricately stunning pottery, and made large earthen mounds before disappearing for unknown reasons.

Over the next few years, other Indian groups such as the Cherokee and Shawnee moved into the area to use it as the perfect grounds for hunting.

The first settlers of white origin to go to Nashville were fur traders from France, and these people established the first official trading post in 1717, and then finally establishing a settlement at around 1779.

James Robertson, a man from England, moved to the area to clear the area and build a  stockade of logs which was called Fort Nashborough. This was named after the General Francis Nash, a man who was known as winning a claim in the community which was at that time considered part of North Carolina.

In the year of 1784, the name of the area changed to Nashville, and in 1796 Tennessee became the 16th state. In 1843, Nashville became the permanent capital of Tennessee.

Since then, Nashville suffered under the war and the Battle of Nashville. Over the next few decades, Nashville would experience a surge in population, education, industry, and business.

Now, Nashville is known as the United States’ Music City.

When did Nashville become the Capital of Tennessee?

Nashville, Tennessee downtown skyline at Shelby Street Bridge
Nashville, Tennessee downtown skyline at Shelby Street Bridge

For 30 years, the capital of Tennessee was constantly being switched between Nashville, Knoxville, and Murfreesboro.

On the 6th February 1796 the city of Knoxville was declared by the constitutional convention as the capital of Tennessee. 

However, less than 20 years later in 1812, Nashville became the capital of Tennessee for the first time – although this only lasted for four years.

In 1817 Knoxville was once again the capital of Tennessee, until 1818 when Murfreesboro became the capital. 

Nashville was once again put back as the capital of Tennessee in 1826, and in 1835 the state constitution mandated that a permanent capital was chosen. As such, Nashville and Murfreesboro battled to be the capital of Tennessee. 

This highlighted a split in society: the Whigs supported Nashville whereas the democrats supported Murfreesboro. Finally, Nashville was chosen to be the permanent capital of Tennessee in 1843.

Why is Nashville the capital of Tennessee?

One of the main reasons why Nashville was chosen as the capital of Tennessee was the fact that it had much better roads than any of the other competitor cities.

Along with that, Nashville had better water connections, and in general was considered a slightly more advanced area. As such, it was also considered a better place to live and house the capital.

Plus, the city of Nashville had a large free piece of land which they offered to the state, so that a capitol building could be built. 

Finally, the state prison was already located in Nashville, and to put the capital there meant that the legislature would be able to watch over it.

Features of Nashville

The size of Nashville is approximately 1,362 km², with a population of around 692,587.

It is home to Vanderbilt University and is known for its music scene: namely, it’s Grand Ole Opry stage and radio show, honky tonks, and the legendary Johnny Cash Museum.

Along with being a big player in the American music scene, Nashville has continued to advance in technology, becoming the much-loved urban center that it is today. 

Best Places to Visit in Nashville

The Grand Ole Opry

Of course, due to Nashville’s nickname as Music City, it comes as no surprise that one of the best things to do in the city is visit the Grand Ole Opry. Their radio show is known as the longest running radio program in the whole of the United States, and as such, it is a deeply historical and important place to make your first stop.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Located right in the heart of downtown, the tall windows of this beautiful building clearly resemble the keys of a piano, preparing visitors for the musical magic present inside. Here, you can see a Cadillac which had once belonged to Elvis, seemingly endless gold records, and a display of historical performances.

The Ryman

Also known as the ‘Carnegie Hall of the South,’ this auditorium features a museum which goes into detail of Honky Tonk Row, along with many educational tours of the rich musical past of the area. You can visit one of the classical and bluegrass music performances, along with check out the musical theater.

Johnny Cash Museum

One of the best things about Nashville is the fact that the capital produced the one, the only Man in Black. Johnny Cash won the Grammy award no less than 17 times and is one of the most beloved country Music stars. As such, be sure to pay homage to this legend and visit the museum in his honor.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!