Ever since I read about the oldest building in the Western hemisphere being in South Florida I have wanted to visit it. I probably knew about the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach as a teenager but was too jaded, disinterested, or unworldly to appreciate it then.
What do you call the phenomenon of living somewhere for a long time but not visiting the sites until you no longer live there?
I lived in Silicon Valley for several years and frequently visited San Francisco—but it was not until 10 years after I moved away that I finally walked across the Golden Gate Bridge.
South Florida, my childhood home, has a few of those attractions.
Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach, Florida
Yes, it is somewhat sneaky to call the Spanish Monastery the oldest building in the Western hemisphere. It was built between 1133 and 1141 in Spain, bought by William Randolph Hearst in 1925, and reassembled here in 1953.
>>> For more historic South Florida buildings, see Opa Locka: Funny Name, Cool Architecture
The Ancient Spanish Monastery (and gardens) has appeared in many movies, television shows, and commercials. It also is popular for wedding photos and ceremonies.*
See also this travel article about amazing and fun Florida road trip stops.
Ancient Spanish Monastery Miami FAQ
What hours are The Ancient Spanish Monastery open?
The Ancient Spanish Monastery hours are typically 10am-4pm on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with limited hours on Saturday and Sunday. The Spanish Monastery is usually closed on Monday and Tuesday. Check the website for current hours during your Miami visit to better plan.
What is the admission fee at Ancient Spanish Monastery?
Regular admission fee for the Ancient Spanish Monastery in Miami is $10 for adults and $5 for children 5-18 years old. Seniors and college students with ID also pay only $5. Military and families do not have to pay to visit the Ancient Spanish Monastery.
Is there a fee to take wedding photos at Ancient Spanish Monastery?
Casual tourists may take free photos but staged portrait photos shoots at Ancient Spanish Monastery require a fee to be paid. When the gorgeous and iconic Ancient Spanish Monastery and property grounds are used in photo backdrops, a $375 fee is charged. The Ancient Spanish Monastery remains one of the top Miami photo spots for graduation, engagement, prom, quince, and other celebration photos.
McCool Travel tip: a wonderful place to eat in North Miami Beach and near the Ancient Spanish Monastery is Laurenzo’s Farmer Market and Italian Center. Yes, that is a long name but everyone just calls the place Laurenzo’s. While you can buy enough fresh pasta and Italian treats to serve hundreds of people at this old school South Florida institution, you can also order a lunch sandwich (but make sure to also buy a cannoli). While waiting for that sandwich, stroll around and look at the amazing photos on the walls. McCool Travel note: Laurenzo’s closed in August 2019. Please support your favorite independent eateries and businesses so that they stay open.
For more South Florida road trip fun, please see 8 Great Places to See Miami Like a Native.
* In fact, that evening, I discussed my day’s Miami travel activities with my high school classmate. “Our wedding was at the Spanish Monastery,” Luis said. How cool is that?
Have you visited the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach?