Belvedere Castle

One of the most iconic features in Central Park, this miniature castle is located atop the huge rock outcrop known as Vista Rock, the second highest natural point in Central Park.

Designed by Central Park co-designer Calvert Vaux and architect Jacob Wrey Mould, the structure and adjacent terraces and pavilions were all called “the Belvedere,” which means “beautiful view” in Italian. The entire complex, completed in 1872, was designed as a place from which to enjoy views of the surrounding landscape; the building originally had no windows or doors, as it was intended as an open-air lookout tower. Constructed out of Manhattan schist, the building was also designed as a focal point in the landscape, drawing visitors to it. It appears as if it emerges from the dramatic Vista Rock on which it is perched.

The Belvedere still draws visitors to take in the sweeping views of Turtle Pond and Great Lawn to the north, the Ramble to the south, and the surrounding cityscape. The Castle also houses one of the Park's visitor centers and a gift shop. When the building is open, visitors can ascend to additional terraces for an even higher vantage point.

Like many of the Park structures, the use and purpose of the Belvedere Castle changed over time. In 1919 the U.S. Weather Bureau converted the building into a weather station, adding windows and doors, and creating offices inside the structure. When they moved out of the building in the 1960s, it fell into disrepair and became a target of vandalism.

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View with audio description

In 1983 the Central Park Conservancy renovated the building and reopened it as a visitor center, once again drawing attention to this exceptional building.

In 2019, we completed a comprehensive project to restore and modernize the building and terraces.

Temperature, wind, and rainfall are still measured at the Belvedere, though primarily now from equipment housed in a fenced-in area just to the south of the building.

The Castle seen from the far bank of Turtle Pond on a cloudless winter day.

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Things you can do here

  • Tours

    Belvedere: A Beautiful View Tour

    Enjoy the sweeping vistas of Central Park from the newly restored Belvedere Castle!

    Tags: History / Art & Architecture

  • Guides

    Explore the Belvedere (Spanish)

    Escuche todo sobre la arquitectura del Belvedere mientras se sumerge en los fascinantes detalles de la rica historia del sitio. Disponible en inglés, español y lenguaje de señas estadounidense.

    Tags: History / Audio Guides / Art & Architecture

  • Self-Guided Tours

    Mid-Park Tour

    Explore the middle of Central Park with stops at the Park’s miniature castle, a popular turtle hangout, and the oldest outdoor monument in New York City.

    Tags: History / Art & Architecture

  • Self-Guided Tours

    How to Spend a Snow Day in Central Park

    Enjoy the Park’s quieter season on a walk past its best winter sights.

    Tags: Kids and Families / Art & Architecture

  • Tours

    Discovery Walks for Families: Turtle Pond Tour

    11:00 am

    A Central Park favorite for young visitors, Turtle Pond is home to five species of turtles who live there year-round.

    Tags: Families / Best for Kids / Nature Lovers / Woodlands

  • Guides

    Explore the Belvedere

    Hear all about the Belvedere’s architecture while immersing yourself in the fascinating details of the site’s rich history. Available in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language.  

    Tags: History / Audio Guides / Art & Architecture

  • Self-Guided Tours

    The Ramble Tour

    Wander through the naturalistic beauty of the Ramble, the most intricate and detailed landscape in Central Park.

    Tags: History / Art & Architecture / Plants and Trees

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