The Most Beautiful College Campus in Tennessee Will Leave You Speechless

Written by Kathryn Koehler
Updated: August 31, 2023
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The college campus of The University of the South combines the best of nature’s splendor, alongside architectural elegance. The stunning landscape of Monteagle Mountain envelops the campus and its incredible buildings. We readily admit that the metric by which we determined the most beautiful college campus in Tennessee is purely subjective. To be sure, several campus’ in Tennessee have pleasing features. The University of the South in Sewanee is, however, if not the most beautiful college campus in the state, certainly among the most beautiful. Its beauty will definitely leave you speechless. Discover more about this breathtaking campus nestled in the Appalachian Mountains.

A road to All Saints' Chapel in Sewanee, Tennessee

The University of the South in Sewanee is among the most beautiful campuses in Tennessee.

©Wirestock Creators/


The University of the South, also known as Sewanee, is a private liberal arts college located in Sewanee, Tennessee. Established in 1857, it is affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Sewanee features a beautiful campus. The university was founded to create an institution of higher education in the South. The campus is on a sprawling 13,000-acre (5261 hectares) domain atop the Cumberland Plateau.

The stunning landscape of Monteagle Mountain surrounds the campus, enveloping it in the tranquil embrace of lush forests, rolling hills, and scenic vistas. This natural backdrop not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of the campus but also provides an immersive environment for students, fostering a deep connection with the outdoors.

Complementing this natural beauty is the timeless allure of Gothic Revival architecture. The campus features intricate stonework, pointed arches, and majestic towers that harken back to the architectural grandeur of medieval Europe. This style not only bestows an air of sophistication but also creates an atmosphere of reverence and contemplation, perfectly aligned with the pursuit of knowledge and personal growth.

The synergy between the mountain’s unspoiled surroundings and the architectural heritage of the university creates a truly unparalleled atmosphere. The juxtaposition of nature’s serenity with the awe-inspiring architecture fosters an environment conducive to both intellectual exploration and inner reflection, making The University of the South a place where students can engage with their studies and the world around them.

Gothic Revival

The architecture of the University of the South’s campus is primarily influenced by the Gothic Revival style. This architectural style draws inspiration from the medieval Gothic architecture of Europe. It incorporates pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and intricate stone detailing. Some key features of the Gothic Revival architecture found on the Sewanee campus include:

  • Pointed Arches: One of the defining features of Gothic architecture is the use of pointed arches in doorways and windows on campus.
  • Vaulted Ceilings: Gothic Revival features vaulted ceilings with ribbed detailing. This type of ceiling construction not only adds structural integrity but also contributes to the aesthetic appeal of the architecture.
  • Towers and Spires: Gothic buildings, including those on the Sewanee campus, have towers and spires that reach skyward. These elements serve as focal points.
  • Stonework: Gothic buildings have intricate stonework, including finely carved details on facades, columns, and other architectural elements. The use of stone adds a sense of permanence and craftsmanship to the structures.
  • Buttresses: Flying buttresses, or external supports that counterbalance the weight of tall walls, are another characteristic feature of Gothic architecture. These buttresses are often visually striking and contribute to the vertical lines of the buildings.
  • Large Windows: Gothic Revival architecture features large windows with intricate tracery, which is the ornamental stone framework that divides the glass into smaller sections. These windows allow for ample natural light and add to the visual complexity of the buildings.
  • Symmetry and Proportion: Gothic buildings often exhibit a sense of symmetry and careful proportion, creating a harmonious overall design.

All Saints’ Chapel

All Saints’ Chapel is the focal point of the Sewanee campus. Rising majestically with its towering spires and pointed arches, All Saints’ Chapel exemplifies the captivating charm of Gothic architecture. Its meticulous stonework and intricate detailing evoke a sense of reverence and timelessness. The chapel’s design pays homage to the medieval cathedrals of Europe, with ribbed vaults and soaring ceilings that draw the eye upward. The chapel’s interior features stunning stained-glass windows that illuminate the space with a kaleidoscope of colors. The intricate designs and depictions in these windows convey religious narratives and symbols, contributing to the overall sense of inspiration and devotion.

All Saints' Chapel at The University of the South, Sewanee, TN

The chapel’s interior features stunning stained-glass windows that illuminate the space with color.

©David Van Horn from Washington, DC, USA / CC BY 2.0 – License

The Domain

The Domain is a vast 13,000-acre (5261 hectares) tract of land atop the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, and it includes not only the university’s academic buildings but also the natural and recreational spaces that make up the campus environment. This lovely area includes forests, hiking trails, recreational facilities, and areas dedicated to research and conservation. This expansive natural setting is an important part of the Sewanee experience and provides students with opportunities for outdoor activities, research, and exploration. As a protected natural area, it is home to a variety of wildlife species. Some of the animals that call The Domain home are white-tail deer, eastern wild turkeys, grey squirrels, opossums, chipmunks, and various bird, reptile, amphibian, and insect species.

Flora on the Mountain

The Domain supports a variety of plant life, which enhances the already beautiful college campus. Since 2013 The Domain has been a Tennessee Certified Arboretum. The area contains over 120 different species of trees and more than 30 shrubs. Many are identified with plaques that include both botanical and common names. There is a sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) tree on the campus that students call the Moon Tree. It grew from a seed that traveled to the moon on Apollo 14.

However, the true jewels of The Domain are the Rhododendron and the mountain laurel. Each of these plants is outstandingly lovely and thrives in the understory. Great laurel (Rhododendron maximum), often simply rhododendron, is a flowering plant known for its stunning clusters of vibrant flowers.

Pink violet Rhododendron flower blossoms

Great laurel, or rhododendron, is a flowering plant known for its stunning clusters of vibrant flowers.

© Sindelkova

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is an equally beautiful evergreen shrub that is native to the Appalachian Mountains. Like rhododendron, mountain laurel produces striking clusters of flowers in late spring to early summer. The flowers come in various shades of pink, white, and lavender hues.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Wirestock Creators/

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About the Author

Kathryn Koehler is a writer at A-Z-Animals where her focus is on unusual animals, places, and events. Kat has over 20 years of experience as a professional writer and educator. She holds a master's degree from Vanderbilt University. When she is not writing for A-Z-Animals, Kat enjoys puttering in her garden, baking deliciously healthful treats for her family, and playing with her two rescue mutts, Popcorn and Scooter. She resides in Tennessee.

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