Way back I had created a Miami bucket list and while I had kept it in mind overtime I hadn’t been checking things off as often recently. One of the thing on the bucket list was the Spanish Monastery and I kind of remember it just being in the middle of the list back then. The other week it came to mind for some reason and I did a bit more research and the pictures made it shoot way to the top of the “bucket list.” The pictures made it look like a real little piece of Europe, which makes sense since it was brought pretty much stone by stone over from Spain.
The monastery was originally built between 1133 and 1144 (which makes it the oldest building in the US). It was purchased by William Randolph Hearst in 1925, who had it taken apart and shipped to the United States. Unfortunately a series of mishaps (disease outbreak in the US, financial troubles for Hearst) caused the stones to become disorganized and sit in a warehouse until 1952. It was then rebuilt as a tourist attraction in North Miami, although some of the stones could not be matched and were used in a new building. Eventually it was purchased by the Episcopal church and currently houses St. Bernard’s parish.
The other Sunday I was going to be hanging out with my little brother and thought the Spanish Monastery would be a cool adventure to take him on. I took one of my cameras for him to use and we explored the grounds. There is an admission fee of $8 for adults and $5 for students/seniors/military ($6 for teens). Since it was a Sunday they also were holding service in the chapel, which I assumed was free.
The outside is definitely really cool, but the inside is what is stunning. On the outside some discoloration and age makes it seem very historical (and not just a re-creation like European-esque buildings in the U.S.), but the level of detail and craftsmanship on the inside left no doubt about its origin and authenticity. Inside is a cool courtyard that my little brother really enjoyed taking pictures of. Overall he loved the courtyard and the grounds outside the most. My favorites were the corridors. I felt like I was back in Europe. All of it though was really beautiful though. I kind of hoped that people would think from Instagram I really had run off to Europe haha.
Unfortunately since it was Sunday we couldn’t get a close view of the sanctuary, but we peeked in our heads in a break in the two services. It looked cool, but wish I had more of an opportunity to study it and take some pictures.
I think it was a shame I wasted so much time waiting to see the Spanish Monastery. I think it’s one of Miami’s top gems and am not sure why more people don’t visit. For a weekend day it was pretty empty (besides the church-goers). You truly feel like you’ve escaped to Europe. But given the serenity and quiet it’s probably a nice thing that it’s a hidden treasure. Check out the pics below and if you’re visiting Miami I’d encourage you to make it a part of your trip and for locals to have it be a Miami adventure.
Spanish Monastery- 16711 W Dixie Hwy, North Miami Beach, FL 33160