the cloisters

June 11, 2012 |  Category:   art + design life nyc outings

There are a few places in the city that can transport you to a different place and time and make you feel like you’re not in the city at all. The Cloisters, located in Fort Tyron Park on the northern tip of Manhattan, has to be one of them. It’s been a good 14 years since I was last at the Cloisters and before that, not since we used to take trips up during my art school years.

I still feel like it’s a hidden gem, perhaps because of its location. But if you’re in NYC and interested in Medieval art, this is the place to visit. Part of the collections date all the way back to the 9th century. And even if Medieval history isn’t something that interests you, you can’t help but be feel in awe standing in the middle of some of the cloisters reconstructed from remnants of monastic sites from France (especially the room with the crucifix Jesus hanging above you). The girls were particularly interested in the unicorn hunting stories that were depicted in the magnificent, large-scale tapestries.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you the gardens at the Cloisters.

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  • sherry June 11, 2012 at 10:07 am

    What a treasure! Thanks for sharing such great pictures Jenna.

  • Kate365til30 June 11, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Gorgeous photos!!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Living, Learning, Eating June 11, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I can’t believe this is in Manhattan! I’m in NYC for the summer, so thanks for sharing!


  • Diane June 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Beautiful, what a treasure!

  • Jen June 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

    You are right – when you get there, it doesn’t feel like you’re in NY. This is such a oddly magical place. The gardens are beautiful as well. Last time I visited was in 2009. Although we caught the subway there, we caught the bus back, getting off by The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine and took advantage of the Vertical Tour, which was really spectacular. Also, the bus ride was great because you really see the diversity from street to street. Ah, I miss NY!

  • Anna @ D16 June 11, 2012 at 11:25 am

    My old neighborhood! All of Fort Tryon park is so gorgeous. Love these photos, Jenna.

  • Atsuko June 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Beautiful. This is the must visit place when I go back to NYC. Thank you for sharing information on NYC. It is always nice to hear about places to check out from local individuals.

  • Karen June 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I’m so excited to see you post about The Cloisters, because I love this place. My first visit was during a high school field trip, and I became so enamoured of it that I continued to make subsequent visits on my own during a summer I stayed in NYC and now, whenever I have the time during visits back east. I try not to let too many years pass (3-4 years?) between visits, and someday, I hope to show it to my little girl (when she has the control and awareness to use her “inside voice” without my reminding her!).

    I’m looking forward to seeing your photos of the garden tomorrow!

  • Alice C. June 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    So cool that you got to show your girls some beautiful architecture while they “hunted” for unicorns in the amazing tapestries. Also, I love the picture of them hugging, while pointing out what interests each of them. Such a sweet pair!

  • ElsaD June 11, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Hi! Just discovered your blog! Love your images and vision of life. Thanks for sharing those amazing places with us. I cordially invite you to visit mine. Hopefully we can follow each other.


  • nikkiana June 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    You’ve inspired me! I don’t live too far from up there these days, maybe I should go check it out over the weekend.

  • j June 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    love the Cloisters. i actually grew up right in the heights so i could walk there. they have the medieval festival every fall which is really fun. you should take the girls.

  • Cadie June 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Oh wow! I always forget about the cloisters as I haven’t been there since high school (probably a good 10 years), I think my 16 year old self didn’t appreciate them as much as I would now.

  • Jenna June 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    @J Yeah, I’ve been to those festival before!

  • diamondkelt June 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    That place looks awesome! And the unicorn tapestries are amazing as well. There’s a story behind the weaver who made them, but I forget where I found out about it. If I can find a link to it I’ll post it up.

  • Dana Youlin June 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    the sister hug is the best!

  • Pink Ronnie June 12, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Stunning. Every shot you’ve taken is just beautiful, Jenna.
    What a gorgeous place to be able to visit – right at your fingertips.
    Ronnie xo

  • CHICKYTHING June 12, 2012 at 2:50 am

    I love places like this.
    I’m so glad your kids are not mall rats but instead are
    more of art museum rats.
    Keep it up!

  • Darcy June 12, 2012 at 8:10 am

    your pictures are always amazing, but today’s are especially wonderful.

  • Nell June 12, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Wow! Your pictures are beautiful – I must visit! And what really blew me away is the fifth picture…I have a beautiful old perfume locket made from gold which has an engraving on it identical to the unicorn in sitting inside the fence … I have never seen a picture of it before so I did some googling – there is some delightful medieval symbolism in that image! So thank you for the lovely post & also the inspiration to investigate my perfume locket a bit more!

  • jacqueline @ thehourglassfiles June 14, 2012 at 1:08 am

    It took me a long time to appreciate Medieval art. And now I can’t get enough.

  • AgA June 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Hello Jenna,
    I know that everybody says “Jenna, Your pictures are wonderfull” but I must do the same 😀
    Best wisches from Poland

  • Debra June 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Just wanted to say that I am enjoying your blog very much….beautiful photography, beautiful girls, and good writing.

    Found this by way of an article on New Domesticity that sent me on to Creature Comforts, etc

    Anyway, I’ll be back / very enjoyable visit here! 🙂

  • Eva @ Sycamore Street Press June 23, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    My husband and I just went to the Cloisters in May when we were in town. I’d been wanting to go for 10 years, but every time we visit NYC, we wouldn’t end up getting around to it. I’m so glad we did this time. Such a gorgeous, peaceful place. And medieval art has always been one of my favorites. Anyways, I wanted to tell you that your photos are just beautiful. Makes me want to stop being lazy and start carrying around my SLR again… instead of relying so much on Instagram!