A 12th Century Oasis in Miami, Florida

Ancient Spanish Monastery Miami Florida ©pennysadler 2013


You may think that I’ve made a mistake when you read the title of this article. There’s nothing in the United States more than 200 years old, right?

Well, Thanks to expat Ana O’Reilly, who I met for the first time about a week before my trip to Ft.Lauderdale, I learned of The Cloisters of the Ancient Spanish Monastery located in north Miami (not far from Ft.Lauderdale). Now that’s what I call synchronicity. If not for Ana, I’m sure I would missed the Spanish Monastery and that would have been a real pity. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.

Spanish Monastery in Miami Florida ©pennysadler 2013

The Cloisters of St. Bernard de Clairvaux

What I loved about the monastery was the simple beauty of the old stones, the shape of the corridors, the arched windows, and the peaked ceilings, and the altars with real candles because even though I’m not religious, I enjoy the ritual of lighting a candle and saying a prayer or meditating.

Shrine of Our Lady ©pennysadler 2013

Shrine of Our Lady

Coat of Arms of St. Bernard

Coat of Arms

Here is a short history of the Monastery in my own words:
The Ancient Spanish Monastery has a rather long and chaotic history. Built in Spain in the Province of Segovia about 1133, it was later named in honor of St. Bernard de Clairvaux, a Cistercian Monk. In 1925, the Cloisters and the out buildings were purchased by American millionaire and publisher, William Randolph Hearst. Every brick was packed into a numbered crate – (11,000 crates!) and shipped to the United States. However, when they arrived in the U.S. there was an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease, every box was inspected, and the hay which had been used to cushion the stones was burned. When the bricks were put back in their boxes, no care was given to see that it was the box which it had been shipped in.

The entire lot sat in a warehouse until the death of William Randoph Hearst. After his death the monastery was purchased by William Edgemon and Raymond Moss at the cost of 1.5 million dollars to become a tourist attraction.

Ancient Spanish monastery miami florida ©pennysadle2013

detail of stone wall

Imagine putting all of this back together, into what you see today! Incredible!

I highly recommend a visit to the Monastery if you are in the Miami area. Where else can you see a 12th century structure in the United States? If you love history or architecture, it’s not to be missed. It’s a miracle that it exists here at all. If you’re a bit tired of the crowds, this is a perfect escape.

Ancient spanish Monastery miami Florida ©pennysadler.com

St. John’s Garden

The wishing well at the Ancient Spanish monastery in Miami, Fl. ©pennysadler2013

wishing well

©penny sadler 2013 doorway at the Cloisters of St. Bernard de Clairvaux

beautiful carved arch over a doorway.

Today the Monastery and Chapel are an active Episcopal church. Services are held in English and Spanish on Sundays. It is often used for events like weddings and photo shoots.

If you read the website, don’t miss this page which shows period photographs documenting the reconstruction.

Touring hours are Monday through Saturday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Sunday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.


All materials ©pennysadler 2013


9 thoughts on “A 12th Century Oasis in Miami, Florida

  1. Yes, churches are a great way to find some peace and relaxation. I do that often myself.
    Thanks for commenting. Hope you can check out the monastery some time.

  2. Well that is quite a unique find, especially to this Floridian. At first, I questioned your title knowing that our state was only discovered 500 years ago (this year in fact) but now it all makes sense. Guess where I’m heading next time I’m in Miami:)

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