Veronique Rouchon Mouilleron
If the church is said to be the soul of an abbey, the cloister is surely its heart. The cloister, a space secluded—as its Latin derivation suggests—within four galleries is at once a place of peace and a ceaseless crossroads. As the hub of all activity, through which monks progressed from task to task and prayer to prayer throughout the day from matins to vespers, its classic layout inspired some of the most extraordinary and varied architectural treasures of the world. Cloisters of Europe covers the cloister throughout western Europe—Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, and Britain—between the ninth and fifteenth centuries and is a celebration of art and architecture from stark pre-Romanesque to flamboyant late Gothic. With an enlightening introduction to the history of religious orders and their devotional life, it is a magnificently illustrated monument to art, antiquity, and spiritual profundity.