European history in Miami?

by Paul Rubio on February 26, 2010

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida

Sometimes a city is so young it has to import its history and commemorated architecture. In the case of Miami, several buildings were constructed in the early 1900s to resemble old European styles; in other instances, historical establishments were taken apart and shipped to the U.S. Two of Miami’s most spectacular historical sights are explained below.

Miami Spanish Monastery (16711 W. Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach): For centuries, St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church was a place of worship in Segovia, Spain, and a centerpiece of church life. The church was purchased by an American in 1925, disassembled, shipped to the U.S. in 11,000 crates, stored in a warehouse in New York for decades, and then finally reassembled in Miami Beach in the 1950s. Now dubbed the Miami Spanish Monastery, the former Segovia church is technically the oldest building in the Western Hemisphere—nearly 900 years old. Well off Miami’s beaten path, the monastery’s cloisters and outbuildings are sights to behold. Call before visiting as grounds often close for private events such as weddings. The monastery is a five-minute drive from the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club.

Spanish Monastery in Miami, Florida

The Cloisters of the Ancient Spanish Monastery


Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami): A fifty-acre 16th-century Italian Renaissance-style villa, Vizcaya once served as James Deering’s fabulous winter residence in the early 1900s. Nowadays, the National Historical Landmark belongs to the city and attracts countless tourists to marvel at the 10 acres of inspirational gardens and fountains on the edge of Key Biscayne while delighting in the European decorative art spread over the 70 rooms of the estate. Vizcaya is a five-minute drive from the Ritz-Carlton, Coconut Grove.

- Paul Rubio

Top photo courtesy of Alaskan Dude‘s photostream

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