the grand ole opry in opryland may have an edge in name recognition but the ryman auditorium soars above in character, history and preservation of original personality these days. built by captain thomas ryman in the late 19th century to serve as a church (formerly called the ‘union gospel tabernacle’), the ryman actually was the home of the opry show in the mid twentieth century – during the years for which the opry is most famous (think Johnny Cash and June Carter, Patsy Cline, Earl Scruggs, Hank Williams, etc.)  the venue is situated in downtown nashville, just off the main drag of small country and bluegrass bars.  (one can actually get a great perspective on these bars, viewing the back door entrances, while walking along the side of the ryman building.)   the building has been through renovation and restoration but retains the same aura – walking through the doors of the theater feels like stepping back into time.

ryman auditorium

ryman interior – original wooden tabernacle pews

stage at the ryman

johnny cash quote

the man in black’s boots

steps leading to the balcony

ryman stage from the balcony

balcony with windows

daughter with her mom accompanying, on stage