The fact that I live in New York is one of the biggest obstacles to getting my keister to some its best family attractions. There are things on my “Definitely Must Visit Soon” list, which have been there for years, because I figure I’ll get to them…eventually. Now I can check off The Cloisters.
The Cloisters, an extension of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is located on the upper tip of Manhattan, hidden about 10-minutes inside of Fort Tyron Park. I had heard rumors of its magical qualities, but had no clue as to how stunning it truly is. I am now totally chagrined that I haven’t been visiting here regularly.
Getting to The Cloisters is a pretty easy affair. The subway stop at 190th street is approximately one block from Fort Tyron Park. The walk through the park includes some breathtaking landscaping, with views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge that you just won’t find anywhere else in Manhattan. Arriving at the giant Medieval Castle, with five French-imported cloisters doesn’t feel like just another visit to a museum.
The collections within the walls of the castle range from an Early Gothic Hall showcasing stained glass fixtures, to The Treasury with its small precious objects, to the easy favorite of most children, The Gothic Chapel. With its tomb effigies it is both macabre enough to entice, but beautiful enough not to frighten. The Cloisters has been celebrated for its collection of The Unicorn Tapestries, which show the hunt and capture of a unicorn. These pieces are woven in such detail that staring at them for long spells of time is absolutely enchanting.
Well worth the time is a visit to the museum’s café. I didn’t try any of the food, but the outdoor seating surrounds the Bonnefort Cloister, which is modeled after a medieval monastic garden. This herb garden has over 250 species of plants and the smells are intoxicating.
This museum trip can trick you into believing you’ve left New York City far behind, and have spent the day in a far-away land. There are plenty of places for kids to run around like crazy, and the surrounding park offers a few playgrounds, with, of course, the obligatory Mr. Softee vendor. Just proves that you’re actually still in Manhattan. The
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Fort Tyron Park
New York, NY 10040