Visit the Cloisters

I decided to indulge my introspective side with a visit to The Cloisters museum and garden in Upper Manhattan. Follow me on my visit to this hidden gem tucked away on the northernmost part of the island.

Don’t get cloistered away

Visit The Cloisters

The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art located in Upper Manhattan at the 190th St. Subway stop near Fort Tyron Park. It may be quite the hike uptown, but trust me when I say that this medieval treasure is well worth the journey.

The Cloisters museum and garden opened to the public in 1938 and contains work dating as far back as the twelfth century. This museum is an homage to the art and architecture of Medieval Europe and was constructed with heavy emphasis on historically accurate layout and structural characteristics of the era.

In fact, The Cloisters is a conglomeration of French abbeys and communes that were disassembled and shipped, stone by stone, to New York. So many of my friends have ranted and raved about how gorgeous the museum and surrounding park is, so I decided it was finally time to check it out.

How abbot a sandwich?

Grab Some Grub

I got off the uptown A train and immediately took in the sight of so many trees in Washington Heights. The entrance to the museum conveniently takes you on a beautiful walk through Fort Tyron Park, but beauty wasn’t enough to distract me from how hungry I was. Luckily, I stumbled into New Leaf Restaurant located in the middle of the park.

This restaurant had the feel of a timeless country-style restaurant hidden away in the trees of Upper Manhattan. I took a seat by the window so I could gaze out at the scene while dining. There’s no better way to spend lunch than with a delicious crab cake sandwich, served with fresh local greens, and sitting in a quiet, nature-filled sanctuary.

A Stroll Through The Park

After lunch, I walked through the park to get to The Cloisters. The walk itself would have been enough to make my day. The afternoon sunlight graced the trees overlooking the Hudson River and made the whole park seem to glow.

This was a perfect opportunity to take some incredible photos and bask in nature’s glow. It’s hard to remember that the city has nature to enjoy when we’re constantly walking down streets flanked by concrete and steel.

The Museum

After finding my way through the park and up the hill to get to the museum, I found the entrance. As soon as I opened the doors, I knew this was going to be something truly special. The interior of this glorious building instantly transported me back to Medieval times, and I felt like I was a duchess inspecting the grounds of my estate.

I walked through maze-like stone corridors to explore one room after the next filled with tapestries, manuscripts, statues, tombs, and various medieval artifacts. My favorite part of the museum was the Gothic Chapel, a true-to-life religious oasis with gorgeous stained glass windows and a magnificent altar.

I noticed how quiet and serene The Cloisters was compared to other Manhattan museums that I’ve visited. It even seemed rejuvenating as people read, wrote, took photographs, and sketched exhibits in the museum from the benches that lined some of the walls. After I had had my fill of walking around, I sat down myself for a while to reflect on my day.

Reflecting on the Beauty

As I walked back through the the park on my way to the subway to head back downtown, I reminisced on how relaxing the day had been. I had a beautiful lunch, a calm walk through the park, and a spiritual experience in the Medieval museum — this was a day of complete relaxation and reflection. The Cloisters is truly a uniquely refreshing experience to find in Manhattan and I am so glad I finally got to check it out.