This small castle offers sightseers breathtakingly, picturesque views of Central Park.
Designed in 1869 as a lookout by Central Park’s co-designer Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, the structure sits on Vista Rock, nestled next to the serene Turtle Pond and famous Delacorte Theater.
The Italian translation of the castle’s name “beautiful view” defines its purpose. The building itself is a fantasy structure, built with schist and granite, with the intention of being a nature observatory.
Its two balconies overlook the Ramble to the south and the Great Lawn (once the location of the city’s reservoir) to the north.
Belvedere Castle is included in our free Central Park Audio Tour for your smartphone.
Take a read on our blog post for more things to see in Central Park.
Belvedere Castle is the 2nd highest natural elevation in Central Park, and the castle’s turret is the highest point in Central Park.
So it makes sense that in 1919, the National Weather Service started using the building to take scientific measurements.
Look to the very top and see the wind instruments still being used today on the castle’s turret. Measurements are now automated and the National Weather Service has since moved to Rockefeller Center.
Currently serving as the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, inside you will find an array of natural history artifacts, as well as microscopes and telescopes to help portray how naturalists study the world.
Discovery Kits are available on loan, with an ID and deposit, and include binoculars, hand lens, flora and fauna ID guides, maps, paper and pens.
The observatory also hosts various free family and community programs; birding events, astronomy talks, and storytelling.
- Open daily, 10am to 5pm, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
How to Get There:
- Central Park, near the 79th Street entrance (Mid-Park)
- Subway B, C to 81st Street- Museum of Natural History
- Subway 6 to 77th Street
Written by Lori Pickhardt