09 May 2013

Fort Tryon & the Cloisters

After my first visit to the Cloisters, I swore I would return every season. Suffice it to say, I haven't kept that promise. So knowing that spring blooms would soon be gone, I convinced a dear friend to meet me early on Sunday morning (OK, before noon) to make the trek up to Washington Heights. Once there, we didn't rush to the Cloisters but rather took our time meandering through the lovely Fort Tryon Park with its views of the George Washington Bridge and the Palisades across the river in Jersey.

The park was in full bloom from cherry blossoms to azaleas to lilacs to tulips. The sun was out and the noise of the city seemed far away. Built in 1935 by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr, the son of the Central Park architect, it's one of the loveliest spots of greenery in the city.

Our destination though was the Cloisters, the branch of the Met devoted to medieval art and gardens. The collection is small enough that you can see everything without getting exhausted, which is always a plus. I love the room with the unicorn tapestries but also like the the Gothic Chapel with its Austrian stained glass windows and statues of Saint Petronella and Saint Margaret of Antioch who's missing her nose.

But the real attraction of the Cloisters for me are the gardens. The small Trie Cloister garden was being redesigned but the Cuxa Cloister garden (above) was warm and inviting as was my favourite, the Bonnefont Cloister Herb Garden (below), where more than 250 types of plants and flowers are grown, all of which could have been found in a medieval garden.

Lovely pink peonies, darling little yellow primroses, flowering quince trees, and dozens of other species filled the garden. And there were even wattle fences! We stayed there longer than any other place in the Cloisters. With a nice breeze coming in from the river, it was incredibly peaceful and almost seemed like we were in another country. My only complaint, that we had to share it with others. 

Photos by Michele.

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