The Cloisters are located up in Washington Heights, by Fort Tryon Park, a beautiful and serene hill overlooking the Hudson River. We arrived late Saturday afternoon, just as the sun was beginning to set, bathing the Cloisters in a gorgeous golden light.
We spent an enjoyable and a half wandering through the halls, peering at the collection from medieval Europe. Our favorite exhibits were off the 15th century playing cards (instead of the modern 4 suits there were hunting horns, dog collars, hound tethers, and game nooses!) and intricately-detailed hand illustrated books!
Merchant House Museum
We decided to visit the Merchant House Museum on Monday afternoon, almost on a whim. Though it looks nondescript on the outside, it is the only Victorian family home that is preserved intact. Built in 1832, the house was home to a wealthy merchant family for almost a century before it was converted into a museum.
We’d lucked out when we rung the doorbell and were ushered in to find that we were right on time for their 2pm guided tour. Our guide, Ann, spent a good hour showing us around the 5-storey house, weaving a rich tapestry of the life of its owners and their servants. The others excitedly pointed out all the little appointments and architectural details of the house that corresponded with the period drama Downton Abbey, including the iron-wrought servants’ bells located all around the house.