Visiting The Cloisters

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On Saturday, June 25th, I had the pleasure of taking an early Amtrak train down to NYC to visit the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park.  I’ve wanted to visit the Cloisters for well over two decades.  I lived in NYC from the time I was two years old until I was thirty-two, but never went to see the Cloisters at any time while I was living there.  I first heard of the Cloisters when I was in college straight out of high school, and always intended to go see it, but never did.   I was so excited to finally see it, and what made it even nicer is that one of my long time blog followers met me there.  Ann Marie has been a faithful follower of my blog since a few months after I started it.  No matter what, Ann Marie always keeps in touch by either leaving a comment, sending me an email or texting me.  I feel so blessed to have such support from a person who never actually met me until that day at the Cloisters.  When we finally did meet, it felt as if I had known Ann Marie my entire life.  Conversation flowed so easily.  Thank you Ann Marie for your friendship and support of just about everything that I do.  Ann Marie normally works on the weekends, but took off to visit the Cloisters with me.

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I took a lot of pictures of the Cloisters, but will only post a few here.  All pictures here were taken by yours truly using the camera on my cell phone.

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I thought that the Cloisters was once a monastery in NYC, but I was wrong.  I read up about it before the trip, and learned that the Cloisters is actually made up of sections of multiple monasteries that existed in Europe.  George Grey Bernard was an American sculptor who spent a lot of time in France.  When Bernard returned to the USA, just prior to the start of WWI, he brought with him his private collection of medieval art and architectural fragments.  The architectural fragments are sections of medieval buildings that were in danger of being destroyed.

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The entire story about how the Cloisters came to be as a museum in Fort Tryon Park is quite detailed, so I am skipping ahead.  In 1924 John D. Rockefeller, Jr. provided the funds that enabled the Metropolitan Museum of Art to purchase Bernard’s entire collection of medieval artwork and architectural fragments, which by that time was assembled as the Cloisters.

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In 1927 Rockefeller financed the conversion of 66.5 acres of land to be a public park with the Cloisters as its main attraction.   To ensure the beauty of the setting Rockefeller also donated land that was directly across the river in the state of New Jersey.  That was a smart move, and today you can look out at the other of the Hudson River from the Cloisters and see acres of trees instead of smoke and skyscrapers.

The Cloisters by Xenia 9I was simply blown away by the Cloisters.  It was much more than I even imagined.  It is such a serene environment.  Seriously, I could live in it.  I would always be in a perfect state of peace and contentment if I lived in there.  No matter where you go, there is a quiet and comfortable spiritual energy, at least to me.  I love monasteries and love to retreat to them from the world sometimes, just for a little while.

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This is one of the most awesome fireplaces from the middle ages that I have ever seen.  It is massive, and I envision it being the type of fireplace that  you would find in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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I was fascinated by the doorways.

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Outdoors is a stunning courtyard.  My camera phone does not do it justice..

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The Cloisters is filled with some of the most stunning tapestries.  I would love to have just one of them hanging in my home.


I didn’t take any pictures of the exterior of the Cloisters, so as I got closer to the end of writing this post, I decided to look for a couple of images online.  This one is courtesy of Wikipedia.

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This exterior photo is courtesy of Kudago dot com.

When it was time to leave, Ann Marie and I stopped in the gift shop.  It is loaded with goodies such as books, postcards, posters, artwork, games, tee shirts, etc.


I bought this from Amazon a few months before the because the price there was a huge savings.  There is a later edition to this book that is sold in the Cloisters gift shop.  This particular edition is out of print now.  I paid $3.84 for it from a private seller on Amazon.  Shipping was $3.99.  It tells the entire story of the Cloisters, and is a nice coffee table book.

If you are a lover or art, especially medieval art and architecture, the Cloisters in NYC is spectacular.  The grounds are also beautiful.  It is a great place to spend the entire day relaxing.   The Cloisters is also host to concerts.  Two of the security guards told us that in the Fall and Christmas are great times to visit.

Oh, by the way.  As Ann Marie was siting on a bench outside waiting for me to get there, she saw Richard Armitage milling around the entrance.  Dayum!  I missed him!  I wonder if that was karma for no longer being obsessed with him.  Ann Marie did some research when she got home and found out that RA is a member of the Met Museum.   I’m not surprised.  He seems like the type of person who would appreciate a place like the Cloisters.



  1. Elizabeth (Beth) King says:

    This is amazing! I cannot believe that I never knew about this. I was born, and lived 32 years, on Long Island (raised by native Brooklynite parents) and never knew this existed. This is now on my to-do list for my next visit “home.” Thank you so much for sharing. If I hear RA is anywhere near when I visit I will definitely go hunting to catch a glimpse of him! ?

    • Xenia says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I have no idea why your comment needed approval first. That is so weird. Anyway, you will LOVE The Cloisters. I think it is New York’s best kept secret.

      I was so disappointed that I missed RA. I’m sure that he would have fallen for me. 🙂

    • Xenia says:

      I know exactly what you mean. When I think about it, I am in awe that NYC has something like that. The Cloisters is an incredible museum. I find that The Metropolitan Museum of Art is pretty tough to resist too. When I was living in Brooklyn, I was always going there to spend the day. I would go up to the top floor and then work my way down slowly.

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