The Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

#2 of 14 in Things to do in North Miami Beach
Religious Site · Hidden Gem · Historic Site
Construction of The Ancient Spanish Monastery was begun in the year 1133 AD in Sacramenia, near Segovia in northern Spain. Completed eight years later in 1141, the monastery was dedicated to the Blessed Mother and was originally named "The Monastery of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels." Upon the canonization of Bernard of Clairvaux in 1174, the monastery was renamed in his honor. A Cistercian monk and mystic, the founder and abbot of the Abbey of Clairvaux, Bernard was one of the most influential church leaders of his time. Cistercian monks occupied the Monastery for nearly 700 years. After a social revolution in the 1830's, the monastery’s Cloisters were seized, sold, and converted into a granary and stable. In 1925, William Randolph Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the monastery's outbuildings. The structures were dismantled stone by stone, bound with protective hay, packed in more than 11,000 wooden crates, numbered for identification and shipped to the United States. Soon after the shipment arrived, Hearst's financial problems forced most of his collection to be sold at auction. The massive crates remained in a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York, for 26 years. One year after Hearst's death in 1952, they were purchased by two entrepreneurs for use as a tourist attraction. It took 19 months and the equivalent of nearly $20 million dollars (in today’s currency) to put the monastery back together. In 1953 Time magazine called it "the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history." In 1964, Colonel Robert Pentland, Jr, who was a multimillionaire banker, philanthropist and benefactor of many Episcopal churches, purchased the Cloisters and presented them to the Bishop of Florida. Today the parish Church of St. Bernard de Clairvaux is an active and growing congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. Services are held on Sundays and weekdays in both English and Spanish. The museum’s hours are 10:00 am until 4:30 pm Monday they Saturday and 11:00 am until 4:30 on on Sunday. Please check the website before coming as the museum may close for filming and special events.

Admission is $10 per person. Students and senior over 55 get in for $5. Active military and children under 5 are free. Free parking. Plan your The Ancient Spanish Monastery visit and explore what else you can see and do in North Miami Beach using our North Miami Beach trip maker website.
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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
234 reviews
  • Very nice place to visit. Beautiful grounds and building with an interesting history. Be sure to watch the short film when arriving. Great place for a photo shoot.  more »
  • Beautiful grounds & amazing story! Nominal entrance fee ($10), accessible restrooms with a mixture of sun/shade. We walked around ~1.5 hours...lovely respite from commercialism.  more »
  • A gorgeous relic for all religious and architectural fans. Very peaceful and serene. The gift shop has great finds for almost nothing. Wonderful
  • Actual medieval Spanish monastery transported to Miami. Small collection of medieval artifacts. Beautiful monastery. Beautiful gardens. Feeling of being in another country. Only$10 admissions.

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