Why You Should Visit Miami's Ancient Spanish Monastery

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church | © Rolf Müller / WikiCommons
St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church | © Rolf Müller / WikiCommons
Photo of Aisha Moktadier
31 March 2017

While Miami is typically known for its glitz and glamour, it also has some cultural and artistic gems as well. There are beautiful galleries and even bizarre cultural and historical venues like the Coral Castle and the Miami Circle. The city is also home to a beautiful religious establishment called the Ancient Spanish Monastery.

The Ancient Spanish Monastery, which dates back to the 12th century, was brought from Spain to the U.S. by William Randolph Hearst. He purchased the cloisters and the monastery in 1925, bringing it to the U.S. by using over 11,000 wooden crates that contained each dismantled piece. However, Hearst found himself in a financial predicament that caused him to sell almost all of his precious collection. What remained sat in crates for 26 years in Brooklyn, New York.

The Ancient Spanish Monastery | Brett Levin/Flickr

After Hearst’s death, two entrepreneurs bought the remaining pieces of the collection and put it back together, which took about 19 months and $20 million to reassemble. According to the monastery’s site, “In 1953, Time magazine called it ‘the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history.’”

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church | © Rolf Müller / WikiCommons
Ancient Spanish Monastery | Brett Levin/Flickr

Originally built in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the cloisters and monastery’s original name was “The Monastery of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels.” Once located in Sacramenia in Northern Spain, the monastery took eight years to build, with construction ending in 1141 AD. Once Bernard of Clairvaux was canonized in 1174, the monastery’s name changed to honor him. Bernard of Clairvaux was an abbot and teacher of the Church St. Bernard and was also a Cistercian monk and mystic. According to the monastery’s site, “Bernard was one of the most influential church leaders of his time.”

There is also a labyrinth that guests can walk through and see beautiful pieces of history. The gardens are splendid to stroll through on a warm day, and you can find gorgeous embellishments all throughout the cloisters. There is a small museum gift shop at the monastery as well.

The Ancient Spanish Monastery | Brett Levin/Flickr
Interior del Monsaterio de St Bernard de Clairvaux | Jorge Elias/Flickr

Church services take place each Sunday in English and Spanish, with other services held throughout the week. It is a wonderful place to visit, relax, and enjoy. Guests love attending services and taking photographs, and the monastery is also a popular spot for weddings. Hailed as a treasured gift bestowed to Miami and honored for its beauty and history, the monastery’s mission is to share this beauty with as many people as possible.

The Ancient Spanish Monastery is open Mon–Sat 10:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Sun 11:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

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