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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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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The Conservancy restores, preserves, and maintains historic structures like Belvedere Castle. Funding for these crucial projects comes from donors like you.

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