The Cloisters was on our “must see” list long before we arrived. It is the section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that displays the art and architecture of medieval Europe. It is housed in a castle-like structure at the northernmost point of Manhattan on a cliff overlooking the Hudson, many miles from the Met itself.
On Friday morning we took the subway to Fort Tryon Park, a fortress where Washington defended against the Hessians, and then followed a lovely path along the Hudson for about a mile into the gardens themselves. It was a beautiful crisp fall day….perfect for a peaceful walk along the river.
The Cloisters was built to house the items procured by John D. Rockefeller and includes such things as a monks’ meeting room, gigantic stone fireplaces, stone doorways and columns, and sections of monasteries including an entire chapel as well as stained glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, and the Unicorn tapestries. Various courtyards are spread within the structure and these are devoted to herbs and flowers of the times.
These photos help describe one of our best days in New York.
One large room displays the large tapestries depicting the Hunt of the Unicorn. The colors are still vibrant after six hundred years. The room has a magnificent fireplace about 20 feet high. We are amazed that any of these things could have been transported to the US over 100 years ago.
The Cloisters currently has a special exhibit called The Forty Point Motet by Janet Cardiff. This artist recorded separately all forty voices of a Talis canon, and these are then played through 40 speakers arranged in a circle within a chapel (that was somehow moved from France to America) that has exquisite acoutics.
One can stand in front of each speaker and hear a specific part or can move about as various voices join with others to produce lovely medieval music. As we listened to the motet, it was amazing to look around and see people just stop in their tracks to bow their heads or look upward and become enthralled in the sound.
We spent three hours enjoying the Cloisters and could easily return for another visit to this very special place. We walked into Washington Heights and found a little Mexican neighborhood restaurant for lunch, The Refried Beans Mex Grill. It was perfect……..just a few tables looking onto the street where parents and children walked by after school on their way home or on their way to the bus stop to go home.
Since it was only mid-afternoon and we now had more energy after our chimichangas and margaritas, we decided to make a quick stop at the Met, as the price of admission to the Cloisters ($25) includes the Met on that same day, plus it was Friday and the Met is open late that night. We hopped on the bus at 187th Street for a ride southward through Harlem and past Columbia and Barnard, all new territory for us.
At the Met we made a beeline for a baseball card exhibiton from a collector named Jeffrey Burdick, who had donated his 300,000 cards. Den had corresponded with Mr. Burdick decades ago as a young boy and bought cards from him “once upon a time” as Den likes to say.
We then took the elevator to the roof garden, a delightful spot at the Met that is only open during warm weather a few months of the year.
to see a couple of our favorite paintings and then took the subway home arriving at our door about 7:30 pm……..what a day!