Here are some fun facts about the largest home in the United States. Biltmore House's size and architecture are absolutely amazing. Even after six years of construction by 1,000+ workers, the 250-room castle was not complete when George Vanderbilt opened it in 1895. Work continued for years. Vanderbilt's diverse and cultured tastes influenced his travels with architect Hunt while Biltmore House was being constructed. The two men traveled throughout Europe and the Orient, purchasing paintings, porcelains, bronzes, carpets and furniture. He married Edith in 1898. It was definitely his life's work since he decided to build the estate at age 25 and died too young at age 52. Read more about Biltmore's history.
The house is a staggering 175,000 square feet (four acres) with 33 bedrooms, 65 fireplaces and 43 bathrooms. Almost 10 million pounds of limestone was used to build it. The entire estate originally covered 125,000 acres (now it's a modest 8,000 acres).
Your self-guided tour covers three floors and the basement. Additional sections of the house can be seen with special guided tours. While there is so much to see, take time to appreciate the amazing art collection. Get a close look at original art by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent. Marvel at magnificent 16th-century tapestries. Almost all of the priceless objects that you see throughout the house are from George and Edith Vanderbilt’s original collection. The largest room in the house is the Banquet Hall with a seven-story high ceiling and triple fireplace. Take our photo tour of the inside of the house!
In 1930, Cornelia and John Cecil opened Biltmore House to the public, hoping to increase local tourism during the Depression. In 1942, during World War II, Biltmore House stored priceless art from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Out of all 250 rooms in Biltmore House, George Vanderbilt’s two-story library is often the guest favorite. Vanderbilt’s book collection consists of approximately 24,000 volumes, with less than half of that in the library. The room was designed about the gorgeous 18th century ceiling painting by Pelligrini. Titled “The Chariot of Aurora,” it was originally located in a palace in Venice, Italy. The painting, 64 feet long by 32 feet wide, consists of 13 separate canvases, the central scene surrounded by 12 smaller paintings. The black marble fireplace and walnut mantle were carved by Austrian artist Karl Bitter. Once termed “one of the best read men in the country” by New York media, George Vanderbilt was a reader from an early age. At age 12, he began keeping a record of the books he had read, including the title and author of each work. The last entry before Vanderbilt’s death in 1914 was No. 3159, the third volume of Henry Adam’s History of the United States. He read an average of 81 books a year. Take a photo tour of Christmas inside Biltmore House.
The biggest and most impressive room in the house is the seven-story high Banquet Hall (photo at top of page) with the massive triple fireplace and 1916 Skinner pipe organ. The dinner table seats 38 with plenty of space for additional small tables. The Flemish tapestries are from the 1500s.
George Vanderbilt engaged two of the most distinguished designers of the 19th century: architect Richard Morris Hunt (1828-1895) and landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903). The four-story stone house with a 780-foot façade was designed to rival the surrounding mountains in grandeur. Hunt modeled the architecture on the richly ornamented style of the French Renaissance and adapted elements, such as the stair tower and the steeply pitched roof, from three famous early 16th-century châteaux in the Loire Valley: Blois, Chenonceau and Chambord. Its scale continues to be astounding: the house contains more than 11 million bricks; the massive stone spiral staircase rises four floors and has 102 steps. Through its center hangs an iron chandelier suspended from a single point, containing 72 electric light bulbs.