Our family has been fortunate to live in Virginia, the history mecca of the United States for many years now. One of my bucket list items while living in Virginia was to visit Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. I had heard so many wonderful things about this lovely plantation from the beautiful gardens to the magnificent views to the immense history.
My family was able to tour the property recently and everything I had heard was true-it was simply stunning. Below is a glimpse into our family's experience at this beautiful mountainside retreat.
(Image courtesy of Monticello.org)
We selected our tour time and arrived at the top of the mountainside to begin our exploration of the property. Our tour guide's name was David Thorston, an extremely knowledgeable gentleman and excellent tour guide. I thoroughly enjoyed the details and insight into life back in the late 1700s. It was fascinating and the level of detail presented was staggering.
Our tour guide shared several interesting facts about Jefferson such as his love for travel which inspired much of the architecture at Monticello, all of which he designed. We also learned that Jefferson had a huge love for knowledge and books. He spent many of his hours reading in his library. There were also many family members that lived at Monticello with him to include many grandchildren. We were able to tour many of the rooms inside Monticello and learned that over 90% of the home had original features, which is an incredible preservation feat. I especially enjoyed all of his scientific gadgets such as his brilliant calendar.
Monticello was also a plantation. We did tour the slave quarters which was one sad reality of life during this era. It was important to also learn about this aspect of life at Monticello as it wasn't glamourous for all. It was particularly interesting learning about the life of Sally Hemings. Sally Hemings (1773-1835) is one of the most famous—and least known—African American women in U.S. history. For more than 200 years, her name has been linked to Thomas Jefferson as his “concubine,” obscuring the facts of her life and her identity. Sally Hemings was the Mother of at least 6 of Jefferson's children. Learn more about the life of Sally Hemings here.
Monticello is also where Thomas Jefferson is laid to rest along with many of his family members. It was fascinating and surreal to see the gravestone of Thomas Jefferson along with many other important historic figures-pretty incredible.
The grounds were spectacular with the architectural masterpiece placed high upon the mountaintop featuring expansive views over Charlottesville. It is understandable how the vast estate got the name Monticello for "Little Mountain". The flower and vegetable gardens were beautiful with an enclosed viewing spot where Jefferson loved to spend time reading overlooking the endless views below.
There were many references that Thomas Jefferson may have referred to this magical spot as the Sea View. 1820-1829. (Charlottesville Central Gazette). “to the right the eye ranged over an expanse of forty miles, and was limited by the verge of the horizon, which resembled that of the ocean…” (as referenced here https://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/sea-view-spurious-quotation) I can certainly see why many thought this view resembled a sea-it was breathtaking.
Our tour concluded with a special trip upstairs (Behind the Scenes House Tour and Day Pass). This is not part of the standard tour (Monticello Day Pass and House Tour) due to the fact you must walk up very narrow stairs to get to it. They also have done such a magnificent job of protecting the integrity of the structure of Monticello and all of its original features that they do like to keep this part of the tour limited. But, what a treat. The room resembled a mix of a planetarium and a ballroom just waiting for the next gala (to include the “secret” room where Jefferson’s granddaughters would use as a child’s getaway).
Along with this history came a deep regard for our military. Therefore, those that run Monticello today are proud to continue this tradition of honoring our military men and women through their Military Discount Program.
Military Discount Program at Monticello---Honoring Service to America
Year-Round Military Offer
Monticello offers FREE ADMISSION year-round for Active-Duty Military
Saturday, November 10, 2018 - 8:30am to 5:00pm Sunday, November 11, 2018 - 8:30am to 5:00pmMonday, November 12, 2018 - 8:30am to 5:00pm
Monticello is proud to offer U.S. military veterans complimentary admission to Monticello for Veterans Day Weekend, November 10-12, 2018. Admission is for the regular daily House Tour and Grounds Tickets. The discount does not apply for special or after-hours tours, such as Behind-the-Scenes Tours and Evening Signature Tours.
Tickets must be purchased in person at the Dominion Welcome Pavilion in David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center and Smith Education Center.
- U.S. Veterans--Free
- Other Adults--$22
- Children (5-11) $9
- Children under 5--Free
If you are stationed in Virginia or planning a visit don't miss out on Monticello. Our entire family enjoyed the tour, grounds and rich history. You can learn more about this magnificient property, tickets, specials, and more on their website, www.monticello.org