While staying in Westchester, we did a day trip to The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, a museum overlooking the Hudson built in the style of a medieval monastery. The building looks very authentic although it actually dates from the 1930s. It houses an interesting collection of art, sculptures, unicorn tapestries, knights paraphernalia, jewelry, and other artifacts from the Middle Ages. The drive is not long and there is lots of free parking.
From Henry Hudson Parkway North you take the first exit after George Washington Bridge. There is no admission fee but you are encouraged to make a donation. Bear in mind that the museum is closed on Mondays.
If you are in the Washington Heights area, definitely hit Fort Tryon Park. Its a beautiful spot of nature right in the city. I used to spend hours wandering around when my grandparents still lived in the neighbourhood. The spring is particularly beautiful because of all the flowers blooming.
The Cloisters, the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe, was assembled from architectural elements that date from the twelfth through the fifteenth century. One of the highlights is the collection of the "Unicorn Tapestries".
It is in Fort Tryon Park, in the most Northern part of NYC.
Admission to The Cloisters includes free same-day admission to the Main Building of the Museum, and vice versa, although seeing both in one day will mean a very long day.
The Cloisters house the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of art and architecture from medieval Europe. "Located on four acres overlooking the Hudson River in northern Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park, the building incorporates elements from five medieval French cloisters--quadrangles enclosed by a roofed or vaulted passageway, or arcade--and from other monastic sites in southern France. Three of the cloisters reconstructed at the branch museum feature gardens planted according to horticultural information found in medieval treatises and poetry, garden documents and herbals, and medieval works of art, such as tapestries, stained-glass windows, and column capitals. Approximately five thousand works of art from medieval Europe, dating from about A.D. 800 with particular emphasis on the twelfth through fifteenth century, are exhibited in this unique and sympathetic context."
If you visit Cloisters museum you will enjoy a walk into this nice greeny public park of Upper Manhattan. The view from some parts of Fort Tryon park are very beautiful because it overlooks over Hudson river. The battle of Fort Washington took place here on November 16, 1776 and that’s why the near bridge has the name Washington bridge. The name of the main street near the park is Margaret Corbin, the first woman that fight in that war.
The park was constructed in 1935 and it contains an extensive walking path network, wooden slopes, terraces and meadows. Many families with children and old people were there relaxing on the lawn or just looking down at the Hudson river. John Rockefeller bought the area in 1917, he gave the basic artifacts to Cloisters museum some years after (like the unicorn tapestries) when he donated the land to New York City. He also bought the area at New Jersey, now knows as Pasisades State Park because he wanted to preserve Fort Tryon’s views!! I wish I had a park like this here in Athens close to my house…
If you have visited medieval museums in Europe you won’t be impressed by Cloisters but I spent 2 nice hours here and the surrounded area overlooking Hudson River was also very nice. There are some medieval artifacts in Metropolitan Museum but here you will see many from monastic sites in southern France.
The building of the museum looks like a castle, there is a room that recreates a 12th century chapel and the gardens are also very interesting because they are planted according to information from that era(from poems and other documents or artifacts).
What I liked most at Cloisters were the Unicorn tapestries, 7 wall hangings dated back to 1495 that portray the hunt and capture of the mythological creature unicorn by noblemen and hunters(pic2). The myth says that a beast with one horn can only be tamed by a virgin maiden but there are some Christian theories that describe the death of the unicorn as the passion of Christ. Many times, some pagan symbolisms turned into acceptable religious theme those days.
You will also see some small medieval works of art, most of them about a religious theme, some precious metal artifacts, the stained glass and some sculptures were also interesting (some nice signs at the side of each item will help you to understand the background of each one). The Romanesque altar cross from 12th century known as “Cloisters Cross” is also one of the popular items because it’s decorated with 92 carved figures that illustrate some biblical scenes. The “Nativity of Virgin” (pic 3) shows Virgin Mary in an unusual position, lying down tired(usually the sculptures of her are on standing position). The sculptor of St.Cristopher has also an interesting story behind if you don’t already know about it(pic5). He devoted his life to carry the poor across a river. One night, he felt his burden grow heavier while he was carrying a child, the child declared that he was Christ and Christopher was bearing the weight of the world!
I’ve been told that there are occasional concerts some afternoons but I didn’t catch one. Usually, it takes place at the 12th cenury Spanish chapel.
I visited Cloisters museum the same day with Metropolitan because it’s for free if you do so the same day. I don’t remember any entrance fee though but the suggested donation is $20.The museum is closed on Mondays but the other days is opened 9:30-17:15
Looking for something different to do in NYC? Go to The Cloisters! It's different because although it's on the island of Manhattan and that's certainly evident when you get off the subway; once you walk into Ft. Tryon Park which will surrounds it, you'll wonder if you've left the city.
I hadn't been here since I was in High School so I didn't have a detailed memory of the structure. The only thing that stood out in my memory was an intricately detailed carved Rosary bead. It's about the size of a walnut and it has a crucifixion and other Biblical scene carved into it in the most amazing detail you can possibly imagine. Seeing it again, I was just as amazed and baffled at how it could've been created, now as I was back then.
It was a gorgeous day when we went and I took a lot of pictures. If you'd like to see them, check out my travelogue!
I love coming to The Cloisters on a beautiful fall day. A subdivision of the Metropolitian Museum, this a monasterylike musuem located on a hill in Upper Manhattan in the Fort Tyron area overlooking fantastic views of the Hudson River
There is a vast collections of Medievel Art and tapestries like the famous 16th Century Unicorn Tapestries and it is well worth that special trip just to view these magnificent tapestries.
Open Tues-Sun 9:30 am - 5:15 pm, closed Monday
Admission to the Metropolitan Museum (which is really just a donation, any price you can afford. I paid $7) also includes The Cloisters. The Cloisters is a recreated monastary in the most northern part of Manahattan just past Washington Heights. It's GORGEOUS I felt like a medieval monk. It's in Fort Tryon park which is equally beatiful and has great views of the Hudson river on the west side and the city on the east side. The surroundings are quite picturesque. The gardens of the cloister overlook the river and the museum itself is an amazing collection of architecture put together from monastaries all the way back from Roman times to Gothic architecture. The famous Unicorn tapestries are here and a must see. Take a free tour! They are short and sweet and you'll get alot more out of it if you know what you're looking at.
Suggested iterary is to do the Metropolitan Museum in the early morning grab a lunch from a nearby deli, take to the Fort Tryon park and eat it overlooking the Hudson River and then visit the Cloisters in the afternoon and have a coffee in one of it's gardens.
The easiest and cheapest way to get there is to take the M4 bus (which accepts the Metro card) from the Metropolitan museum(ask the very helpful information staff for exact location of bus stop which is only a block away). The ride is a little over an hour long, but you get to ride through Harlem and Spanish Harlem and on the way you can see the famous "Tom's Restaurant" of Seinfeld fame and Columbia University. The bus is a great way to see the city especially parts you just wouldn't get to on your own. However, ask the staff at The Cloisters how to get back using the subway. You don't want to do that bus ride twice.
The Cloisters is surrounded by peaceful gardens planted according to horticultural information found in medieval treatises and poetry, garden documents and herbals.
Aside from the impressive collection of medieval art, the Cloisters is worth visiting just for its lush gardens.
There are also Garden Tours are offered Tue through Sun at 1pm in May, Jun, Sep, and Oct.
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