Did you know that New York City houses a medieval secret? Right here in the five boroughs, you can find a hidden castle, filled with art and architecture straight from medieval Europe. Visiting The Cloisters has been on my New York bucket list for a while, so one summer day, I wandered uptown for a trip back in time.
The Met Cloisters is easily one of the most famous art museums in New York City. First opened in 1938, the museum houses European medieval architecture, sculpture, and decorative arts with a focus on Romanesque and Gothic periods. Major donors John D. Rockefeller Jr. and JP Morgan contributed to the start of The Cloisters, with other objects coming from art dealer Joseph Brummer.
Getting to The Cloisters is super easy. Take the A (you’re in luck if it’s not running local) to Dyckman Street. Follow the signs into Fort Tryon Park, and make your way up the hill. Way, way up the hill.
Take some time to enjoy the views of the Hudson as you head up.
Because The Cloisters is part of The Met, New Yorkers are free to pay what they wish for admission. Make sure you bring an ID to take advantage of this option!
Where does the name “The Cloisters” come from? The museum’s buildings are centered around four specific cloisters that were dismantled in Europe and moved to New York during the late 1930s - the architecture itself is older than New York City.
The building design is intended to replicate several European sites, with French Gothic windows, walkways, and arches everywhere you look. You really do feel like you stepped out of New York City and into the gothic period.
The Cloisters is home to an endless amount of art. From sculptures and tapestries to manuscripts and panel paintings, art lovers and everyday people (aka, me) can easily spend hours exploring a massive historical collection.
There’s more to see at The Cloisters than just the estimated 5,000 pieces of art and architecture. When you step outside, you’ll find 3 beautiful gardens. One, the Judy Black Garden, is the perfect place to sit and soak up the beautiful weather. It’s also one of the most Instagrammable spots at The Cloisters.
Visiting The Cloisters should be on every New Yorker’s bucket list. While it’s a quick trip away by train, you’ll feel like you took a journey to another time.
Interested in more bucket list adventures in New York City? Follow along on Instagram at @fiveboroughbucketlist!