Yes, the United States has centuries of history. It’s still a baby compared to some countries, but it does have some history that goes way back.
Centuries before Ponce de Leon and the mythical fountain of youth, construction began on these cloisters in Sacramenia, Spain in 1133. After being completed in 1141, monks lived here for nearly 700 years before it was seized and sold in the 1830’s. It was converted to a granary and stable, but was purchased in 1925 by William Randolph Hearst. It was dismantled stone by stone, carefully packed in 11,000 wooden crates amongst liberal amounts of hay, then shipped to the US. Around that time, hoof and mouth disease broke out in Segovia, and the shipments were quarantined to burn the hay inside as a precaution. As the workers began to assemble the shipment, they failed to follow the order of the original boxes.
OK, music majors, try this one on for size!
After sitting in storage for 26 years, the stones were purchased by William Edgemon and Raymond Moss in 1952 for use as a tourist attraction. 19 months and $1.5 million ($13 million today) later, ‘the world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle’ according to Time was complete. It was sold to Colonel Robert Pentland, Jr. in 1964, a wealthy philanthropist and benefactor of churches. Today, the Monastery is home to the Church of St. Bernard de Clairvaux, an Episcopal (Anglican) church, and is a popular spot for quinceañeras or photo shoots.
We aren’t planning a quinceañera, of course – we came for this awesome Spanish castle. After paying admission, look for the two 12th century telescopic stained-glass windows above the altar in the first room. These are two of only three known from the medieval period in existence today.
Some cats are around (so watch your step!), though there isn’t too much to see between the first room (where you started) and the castle, just a pretty garden.
Speaking of that garden / courtyard, it’s fairly small… but really pretty. A park outside the paid admission area is a peaceful area nearby.
Look down the corridor for a view that you probably wouldn’t see anywhere else in the United States.
One of several coats of arms on the walls.
That awkward moment when your head gets lopped off.
It’s a quiet, reflective place to meander… at least until some loud motorcycle rushes past on the main road. It’s beautiful and authentic, and is the next-best thing to visiting Spain and seeing the millennium-old buildings for yourself.
Name: The Ancient Spanish Monastery Museums and Gardens
Address: 16711 West Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach, FL, 33160 (GPS: )
Directions: This is about halfway between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Take I-95 to exit 12B, then follow FL-826 E for about three miles. Turn left onto NE 22nd Ave/W Dixie Highway, then look right for the monastery. Free parking lot.
Hours: 10:00am-4:30pm Mon-Sat, 11am-4:30pm Sun (last admission at 4pm) – Mass on Sundays at 8:00 am and 10:15 am in English, and at 12:15 pm in Spanish.
Ratings out of 5 globes (How do I rate destinations?)
Ease to arrive:
Worth the visit:
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