If it weren't for this branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, many New Yorkers would never get to this northernmost point in Manhattan. This remote yet lovely spot is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Atop a cliff overlooking the Hudson River, you'll find a 12th-century chapter house, parts of five cloisters from medieval monasteries, a Romanesque chapel, and a 12th-century Spanish apse brought intact from Europe. Surrounded by peaceful gardens, this is the one place on the island that can approximate the kind of solitude suitable to such a collection. Inside you'll find extraordinary works that include the Unicorn tapestries, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, ivory, and precious metal work.
Modern times have even come to the Cloisters. There is an official blog devoted to their wonderful medieval garden, http://blog.metmuseum.org/cloistersgardens. Garden lovers will love to peruse its postings. By the way, even in the dead of winter and without flowers, the garden -- which is inside the museum in the center of a courtyard -- has a magical quality, especially when it snows.
Despite the remoteness, the Cloisters are quite popular, especially in fine weather, so try to schedule your visit during the week rather than on a crowded weekend afternoon. A free guided Highlights Tour is offered Tuesday through Friday at 3pm and Sunday at noon; gallery talks are also a regular feature. Additionally, Garden Tours are offered Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm in May, June, September, and October; lectures and other special programming are always on Sunday from noon to 2pm; and medieval music concerts are regularly held in the stunning 12th-century Spanish chapel. For an extra-special experience, you may want to plan your visit around one.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010