Although the Bahamas has lots to offer in many ways, the best work I’ve heard to describe it is Anomaly. Its just not a normal place to visit and I mean this in a good way. Here is how
Take a trip to downtown Nassau and something may stand out to you. There is a clear mix of modern vehicles but there are still horse and carriages moving about the streets. How can this be for such a modern country?
Its simple the horse and buggy known as a surrey is purely touristic. visitors can take a tour of the city of Nassau while learning about its rich history.
There are more such anomalies throughout the islands but one that stands out among them all is the Cloisters.
What is the Cloisters?
The best dictionary answer is – a covered walk in a convent, monastery, college, or cathedral, typically with a colonnade open to a quadrangle on one side.
This accurately describes a structure in the Bahamas.
Just a short trip over what we call “the bridge” to paradise island is a structure that you may want to take a look at. You can catch a cab, a bus and walk over the bridge or the best way is to use another anomaly a water taxi.
The Cloisters, that now lay about mid way on the island facing the southern end of the island towards the harbour and the northern end called the Versailles Garden that merges into the One and only Ocean Club is actually originally built in France.
This is what makes it such a strange sight to behold. The Cloisters were originally a part of a French Monastery build sometime in the 12th or 13th century. Although this time period is disputed there is an engraving at the sight that dates it well within this period.
This means the Cloisters are over 700 years old.
How did it get here?
Build in Montrejau France by the Augustinian Order, the cloisters were purchased by William Randolph Hurst an American newspaper publisher in the 1920’s.
the entire estate was dismantled and brought to America and placed in storage. Around the same time Hurst also purchased, disassembled and reassembled a Spanish monastery that now sits in north Miami.
The story of the cloisters caught the ear and eyes of a close friend George Huntington Hartford II who soon after bought the French monastery from Mr Hurst and shipped it to the Bahamas to be a part of his newly acquired island known as Hog Island but later renamed to Paradise Island in 1959
The structure was painstakingly reassembled on its present location, block by block, stepping stone by stepping stone and even the elevation was achieved with a raised southern hill and a lower norther side where the Versailles Gardens are located.
This Cloisters at Paradise Island is one of four to ever in history to be removed from French soil.
Located about the grounds are various statues made of marble and bronze however the most seen statue is of a woman covering her mouth aptly names Silence. There is some folk lore about this statue among some islanders.
Stories are told that during the hot summer nights of the Caribbean a woman can be heard crying among the cloisters. Some say they would see tears falling from the statue.
This anomaly of a structure is well worth the visit with the right tour guide. Enjoy capturing personal photos as it is also frequented by local photographers for amazing photo opportunities.