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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Serenity, Tranquility, Peace



Although technically in the borough of Manhattan, I have always felt it was almost a little undeserving for any New York borough to take claim to something so special as the Cloisters - it is located at the northernmost end of the island, as far as one can get from Uptown, Midtown, Downtown or any other area of that one would typically associate with New York City. Apart from the small number of residents in Washington Heights/Inwood, this area is really a destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

The Cloisters is a museum of medieval art and architecture, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Everyone loves this extraordinary complex - it's a close as you are going to get to genuine French architecture in the city. Germain Bazin, former director of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, described the Cloisters as "the crowning achievement of American museology."

The museum buildings were designed by Charles Collens and constructed from elements salvaged from five cloistered abbeys in France: Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigorre, and Froville. The sections used were disassembled brick-by-brick, shipped to New York City and reassembled between 1934 and 1938. From the Cloisters website:

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 three thousand works of art from medieval Europe, dating from the ninth to the sixteenth century, are exhibited in this unique and sympathetic context.

Located on four acres overlooking the Hudson River in northern Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park, the Cloisters is a world apart from the glitter, glamour, hustle bustle and frenetic energy of the city. For most New Yorkers, Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters is a country getaway, a mini vacation. Visit the Cloisters if you want a small vacation from the city and Serenity, Tranquility and Peace :)

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8 comments:

Mary P. said...

A lovely spot to be sure.

And be sure to stop at the New Leaf Cafe nearby in the park. Good food & drink in a lovely spot - not inexpensive, but profits go to Bette Midler's park maintenance projects.

Sharon said...

This is such a wonderful place. I loved every minute of my visit there.

Jack said...

This is one more reminder that I absolutely MUST go to the Cloisters some time . . .

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

You are absolutely right about the tranquility of this wonderful place, Brian, and about it feeling like something apart from Manhattan. The first time I visited there was on my first trip to New York, and it felt almost disconcertingly not connected to the city. On subsequent visits, I've come to embrace its quiet separateness.

Anil P said...

So tranquil and peaceful. The greenery complements the mood well.

renlgs303 said...

Other than the strangeness of seeing bits and pieces of one’s own culture displayed museum-like, my most persistent memory of the Cloisters is of watching an old Hispanic woman crossing herself before a 13th century crucifix.

She wasn’t buying that museum experience for a second. She was paying her respects to something that was as real to her as it had been to her fellow human beings 700 years ago.

Counter Height Dining Table said...

This is really a beautiful place. So tranquil and so peaceful.

Meg said...

This is by far my favorite place in NYC...well, anywhere I've ever been really. I am working on a Master's thesis on The Cloisters and how it's a unique take on art. Thanks for the pictures!