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Conjuring associations with medieval courts and fantastical palaces, Belvedere Castle is an unusual sight among the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan. Marvel at this dramatic structure standing tall over a pond, which is green in summer and frozen white in winter. See why the castle’s name, Belvedere, comes from the Italian word for “beautiful view.”
Fusing gothic and Romanesque styles, Belvedere Castle was originally designed to be a Victorian folly to entertain sightseers. Since 1919 it has gradually become a research station, recording climatic figures such as rainfall and wind direction. It is likely that if you see a weather forecast with temperatures in Central Park, it was taken here. Enjoy an afternoon walk around this wonderful place.
Circle its schist and granite exterior and get a picture with one of the castle’s stunning towers in the background. Remember that Belvedere Castle sits on top of Vista Rock, one of the highest natural points of elevation in Central Park. Ascend the steps of this great structure and look out over panoramic views of Manhattan skyscrapers.
Tour the interior on your way to the top, where you will find the Henry Luce Nature Observatory. Examine natural history artifacts, including equipment that is used to study the natural world and animal skeletons. On the second floor, find papier mâché replicas of bird species that are found within the park's grounds.
From the castle, birdwatchers may be able to see birds of prey such as kestrels and ospreys. Use one of the observatory's field packs, containing binoculars and maps and go on a wildlife spotting adventure in the park.
Belvedere Castle is located on 79th Street Transverse. Drive from 79th Street into the center of Central Park or arrive on foot. If you are coming from the East Side, take the subway to 86th Street and walk. From the West Side, take the subway to 81st Street.
The striking looking attraction is open every day except Mondays, and admission is free.
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