Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach, Florida

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.

Ever since I read a few years ago about the oldest building in the Western hemisphere being in South Florida I have wanted to visit it. Of course, 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.

Well, I was able to visit the Spanish Monastery on my recent South Florida road trip and I now appreciate it.

Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach, Florida

Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach
Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

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

carving from year 1141 in Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach
Spanish Monastery in Miami was built in 1141 (in Spain!)
Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach. McCool Travel
Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach
Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach.
Monastery, North Miami Beach
ancient donor at Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach
Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

The Ancient Spanish Monastery (and gardens) has appeared in many movies, television shows, and commercials. It also is popular for wedding photos and ceremonies.*

Spanish Monastery courtyard
Monastery, North Miami Beach
Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach
Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach
hallway view at Spanish monastery
Monastery, North Miami Beach

The chapel features 2 of the only 3 remaining telescopic stained glass windows in the world. Pretty cool!

rare telescopic stained glass
a rare telescopic stained glass window at Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

For more South Florida road trip fun, please see my recent article: Opa Locka: Funny Name, Cool Architecture.

  • In fact, that evening, I discussed my day’s exploration activities with my high school classmate Luis Sousa, the architect who designed the Lynn University memorial. “Our wedding was at the Spanish Monastery”, Luis said. How cool is that?

Have you visited the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach?

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Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach, Florida was first published on McCool Travel in March 2014.

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3 thoughts on “Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach, Florida”

  1. Even if it was built in a foreign land Charles, still pretty darn cool to have the oldest building in the Western hemisphere 😉 Took that Hearst fortune to make it a reality I see. Way awesome fact, and post!

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