True, I gifted a visit to The Met Cloisters to my beau for our 4th anniversary, but it was an excursion I very much wanted to go on as well. This park and museum should be an item on any local’s bucket list.
How to get there
It’s pretty easy to get to the area by subway. The entire time, I was singing lines from the opening number from In The Heights. (Get off at 181st and take the escalator…I hope you’re writin this down, I’m gonna test ya later.) I haven’t been on a public transportation since the panny started so we took an Uber. If you’re driving, you can go straight to the gates of the museum, but that’s at the top of the park. I recommend getting out closer to the bottom of the park, grabbing coffee at Buunni, and walking through Fort Tryon Park to get to the Cloisters (located all the way at the top).
What to see/do
The Met Cloisters is actually a really cool museum, and unlike any I’ve ever been to. It was built in the modern era but in an architectural style representative of the Middle Ages, like the art featured inside. So not only do you feel like you’re walking through a Medieval castle, all your senses are being consumed by a certain time period. The museum itself is a piece of art. The size of the museum was actually perfect. It wasn’t so big as to feel overwhelming (which is the case at almost every other NYC museum) so we actually went through every room. Just when we were getting tired, we hit the end.
Because of the time period represented, it’s a lot of religious artifacts. We saw chalices that made me feel like I was in that scene in Indiana Jones, trying to choose the holy grail and then we saw an ancient Hagaddah – both ends of our interfaith spectrum were satisfied. We also saw the first known deck of playing cards and the famous unicorn tapestry room. Back in the day, there was quite a fixation on unicorns and how they were hunted for the healing powers in their horn (aka a narwahl tusk), depicted in the stunning tapestries.
The rooms of the museum are built around little gardens – these are the Cloisters. Back in the Middle Ages, cloisters were used for reflection and meditation. You’re encouraged to take a seat on one of the benches and do just that. It’s so serene and feels miles away from the city…without leaving the island of Manhattan. Also, it was serving mad Highgarden vibes so I felt like Lady Olenna Tyrell for all my GOT fans.
BUT! It’s about the park, not just the museum. Fort Tryon Park is absolutely lovely. Walk around the grounds, sit and stare at the Hudson River below, and admire the flowers. The day we went was super overcast. One of those days where you don’t need to open up your umbrella, yet it’s constantly misting. It actually meant the flora and fauna was looking beautiful and not at all parched…but sadly not much natural light for me to take pics.
This area of the city is seriously underrated. The park is gorgeous and the museum is really nice. If you live by a park, I wouldn’t say to go out of your way to hang out at Fort Tryon – unless, of course, you’d like to mix it up. And once you see the museum once, you don’t need to go all the time. Unlike the main Met, there’s not something new to discover every time. This could be an annual visit and you’d be very happy. That said, if you’ve never been, it should definitely be on your list. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to go!