Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle


Type of Place: Parks

Hours: 10:00am-5:00pm, Tuesday-Sunday

Perched on Vista Rock, the second highest natural elevation in the Park, is Belvedere Castle. Belvedere, Italian for panoramic viewpoint, offers visitors just that. You can look down into the Delacorte Theater to the left, home to summertime Public Theater productions of Shakespeare and cutting edge interpretations of new and classic plays. Straight ahead is the newly-restored, 55-acre Great Lawn, once one of the Park's original reservoirs; now it offers softball fields, basketball courts, and an abundance of sunbathers. And below, with a boulder-strewn shoreline, is Turtle Pond.

What about the Castle itself? Belvedere was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as a Victorian "folly." In architectural terms, a folly was a spot of playfulness, a fantasy building - a miniature Greek or Roman temple or a pint-sized Gothic castle - that offered a dash of the unexpected in a carefully calculated pastoral landscape. The Castle originally was only a shell, with open window frames, and doorways, really an elaborate scenic overlook.

Today, Belvedere Castle has true windows and doors and is home to the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, run by the Central Park Conservancy. Inside are simple displays that show how naturalists observe the world to learn how it works, and how they share their findings. There are telescopes and microscopes and skeletons and feathers - all designed to pique the curiosity of young visitors.
  - Central Park Conservancy

Belvedere Castle
Mid-Park at 79th St
New York, NY
(212) 772-0210