Often forgotten about because of its upper Manhattan location, The Cloisters is like walking into another place and time. As America’s only museum dedicated to medieval art, The Cloisters envelopes visitors in the Middle Ages with gardens, tapestries, and paintings from the time period. Though The Cloisters is an extension of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it retains its own powerful identity as an iconic cultural institution in the heart of New York City. Set in beautiful Fort Tryon Park right on the Hudson River, this museum should not be overlooked. The institution, spanning about four acres in size, houses over 2,000 unique artworks in various galleries. The largest gallery holds German, Spanish, and Italian paintings dating back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Some refer to a cloister as “the nucleus of monastic life.” True to its definition, The Cloisters features large courtyards, gardens, and spaces dedicated to the preservation of community needs. Such spaces include dormitories and churches, some of which were constructed from fragments of extraordinary monasteries from the twelfth century. Furthermore, breathtaking stained glass windows decorate grand chapels characterized by their gothic architecture. Some of the chapels hold. Lush gardens complement the medieval edifice, creating a remarkable dynamic between natural and manmade elements. The Cloisters provides an opportunity to indulge in history and culture while marveling in the serenity of natural scenery. The gardens originally served as sustaining forces in times of invasion, providing nourishment and cure from ailment. Today, professional horticulturalists who specialize in medieval gardening techniques man the gardens.