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Memphis is Elvis and Elvis is Graceland. The country estate of The King is a shrine and place of pilgrimage for Elvis fans from around the world. The young pop star bought the house in 1957 right after his big breakthrough. He wanted a rural estate that would keep the hordes of fans at a distance. And Graceland did just that.
When it was purchased, Graceland was surrounded almost entirely by countryside. Elvis and his parents immediately fell in love with the stately home, with its white columns and shadowy gardens. Elvis signed the contract on 10 March 1957 and he and his parents moved in in April. Elvis had the famous gates with the musical notes, the ‘music gates’, specially designed and installed that same month.
A tour of Graceland gives a good idea about the distinct and often bizarre taste of The King of Rock and Roll. The Jungle Room, a room inspired by Elvis’ favourite holiday destination of Hawaii, is legendary. Green carpeting, exotic plants and lots of animal prints give it a real jungle feeling. But the bright yellow ‘TV room’ in the basement and the over-the-top upholstered ‘pool room’ are also great examples of Elvis’ flair.
The top floor of the country estate is the best kept secret of Graceland. Although Elvis often had guests, he never let them venture upstairs, a wish that is still respected by his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. Since Elvis’ death in 1977, she is the only person to have access to this illustrious floor. It is said that everything here has been kept in its original state and that even Elvis’ deodorant is exactly where it was when he last used it. No one knows if and when this hallowed floor will ever be opened to the public.
“Graceland is the second most visited house in America. Only the White House attracts more visitors each year.”
Graceland itself is actually surprisingly small and intimate for a pop star of Elvis’ calibre. Fortunately, there are various exhibitions to enjoy at the rural estate, good for a few hours of entertainment. Elvis’ favourite car, for instance, is on display and you can have a peak at his private plane, the Lisa Marie. ‘Sincerely Elvis’ may very well be the most revealing exhibition at Graceland. Here you will find a collection of his personal belongings, including record collections and sneakers. Depending on the level of your interest in Elvis, you can easily spend 2 to 5 hours exploring Graceland.