The Medieval Castle… in Manhattan

Step up your 'gram game and head out to the Met Cloisters

212 To My City | Mareah Younes | April 21, 2016

  • Copied

Consider this your guide to “getting out of Manhattan” without actually getting out of Manhattan. When I took the A train up to 190th street, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. And suddenly, whilst exiting the terminal, I was blinded by a powerful sunlight you don’t see very often in the city due to the obstruction os skyscrapers. I stepped out and looked around and realized that I wasn’t in Manhattan anymore.

So, you caught me. The real reason I decided to go to the Met Cloisters wasn’t my own self interest, but rather for a class. But the good thing about that is that I had lots of friends to go with. When we walked up the winding path, we looked around and saw more greenery than we’d seen in ages. Trees, flowers, a river with hills on the side (look over yonder, that’d be New Jersey). But most importantly, we saw what looked like a Medieval Castle.


It’s not actually modeled after a real structure, but rather it was built in the style of many castles/churches from Medieval Europe. It not only houses beautiful artifacts, including Romanesque statues and frescos, but also, you guessed it… Cloisters! And if you’re like me, you’re wondering what is a cloister (and why is that word so ugly?)? Good news, friends, I finally looked it up today!

According to my special friend,, a cloister is… “a covered walk, especially in a religious institution, having an open arcade or colonnade usually opening onto a courtyard.” And this is what one looks like!


There are a few sprinkled throughout the museum, and some lead to outdoor spaces where you can get a beautiful view of the Hudson. Yes, more nature!


You also won’t want to miss the room filled with Unicorn tapestries. They’re mega-famous, mega-beautiful pieces of art from the Netherlands. They depict a time in which people believed that unicorn horns possessed special powers (including water purification), and so, they were hunted and captured. The tapestries are gorgeous. On a quick aside… little did the Dutch know that one day we’d discover the truth about unicorns… they existed but look nothing like what we pictured in our rainbow-filled heads:

Unicorn in Captivity, from the room of Unicorn Tapestries
The "Elasmotherium"
The “Elasmotherium”











Also, on display now, is an exhibit featuring intricate, ancient playing cards. Let me tell you, they are gorgeous… if only half the board games from today looked like that!


So if you’re looking for a little history lesson, a breath of fresh air, some great spots for Instagram, and good food with a view… head up to the Cloisters! I’m sure you won’t regret it!