Recently, Jacek and I headed to Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan, home of the Cloisters museum and gardens. The grounds and exhibit are a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. It was assembled from architectural elements, both domestic and religious, that date from the twelfth through the fifteenth century.
The Cloisters’ collection is comprised of approximately three thousand works of art including relics from French medieval monasteries, as well as an extensive collection of statues, paintings, stained glass windows and tapestries. Pics below.
The columns and capitals are all carved from the pink-veined marble taken from quarries near Cuxa. When the Museum was ready to install the Cuxa cloister, these quarries were reopened, so that the same pink marble could be used to make the new architectural elements as in the original twelfth-century elements. Some of the capitals are carved with designs evoking palmettes, vine scrolls, pine cones, or acanthus leaves. Figurative capitals show lions rearing and gnashing their teeth or devouring humans, ribald apes and mermaids, men grasping eagles or blowing horns, and several varieties of infernal beasts.
Pic below: The Hudson River is really beautiful from this vantage point. I didn’t notice him when I took this photo, but I like how the man standing outside on the terrace is gazing out at the river.
Pic below: The museum has several intricately engraved wooden sculptures that are quite mesmerizing to look at up close.
Pic below: I love the high arched ceiling in this photo that Jacek snapped of me.
Walking around the grounds is peaceful and and if you like nature and being outdoors, like I do, then I recommend exploring the gardens and surrounding trails that wind throughout the property. While we were there, we saw a bride and groom taking advantage of the gorgeous backdrops for their wedding photos.
My favorite photo is below of the winding stairs made from stone!
Pic below: The tapestries were elaborate and rich in color. Each one told a story, and many had mythological beasts like unicorns.
The room below is part of the monastery and I have to admit, it kind of gave me the creeps when I was there and again now when I look at the picture! I’m imagining Gregorian chants when I look at this photo, which is generally never good in horror movies.
The Cloisters derives its name from the elements of five medieval cloisters that have been integrated into the design of the Museum. Three of these have been reconstituted as complete, four-sided cloisters. Of these, this one, from the monastery of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, is the best known.
In 1125 Bernard, abbot of the new Cistercian monastery at Clairveaux, ridiculed the excesses of architectural detail similar to the ones you see here in the Cuxa cloister. To hear an excerpt of this diatribe, please press the green play button now.
Entrance to The Cloister is a recommended donation of $25 per person, for non students. Admission includes same day entry into the The Metropolitan Museum of Art.