Named for the Italian meaning "beautiful view," Central Park's Belvedere Castle offers park goers exactly what its name implies. With its two balconies, it supplies wonderful panoramic views that include some of Central Park's most beautiful and famous landmarks: the Delacorte Theater, the Great Lawn, the Turtle Pond and the Ramble.
Originally designed in 1865 by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, Belvedere Castle was intended to be a Victorian Folly, a fantasy structure that provides a great backdrop and views, but without a real intended purpose. With its strong stone façade, grand turret and flag, the castle was merely a stunning attraction in Central Park.
This all changed in 1919 when the National Weather Service began taking measurements from the castle's tower with scientific instruments that determine wind speed and direction. Additionally, just south of the castle, other data such as the rainfall was recorded and sent to the weather service's forecast office at Brookhaven National Library on Long Island. Belvedere Castle is still used for this purpose today.
Over the decades the castle suffered from deterioration and in 1983, the Central Park Conservancy renovated and reopened the structure, which now also serves as the Henry Luce Nature Observatory. Inside, visitors will discover a vast collection of natural history artifacts, such as skeletons and paper mâché birds. There are also microscopes and telescopes on the premise to give guests insight into how naturalists study the world. Those who want to explore Central Park from a scientific standpoint can use the castle's field packs that contain binoculars, reference materials, maps and a notepad to jot down observations. Finally, for birdwatchers, the castle is an ideal location to catch a glimpse of a hawk, kestrel or osprey.
Throughout the year, various free family and community programs are hosted at Belvedere Castle, including "On A Wing" birding events, astronomy talks, storytelling, and even a haunted castle event every Halloween. For further information on these activities, check out our Events Page.
Location: Mid-park at 79th Street
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM - 5 PM
For further information call 212-772-0210