The restored Belvedere at night, courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy
As 6sqft reported, Central Park’s Belvedere Castle is open to the public today after a comprehensive $12 million restoration effort. In addition to a restored facade, new clear-pane-glass windows, new mechanical and utility systems and a the re-creation of the wooden tower that was part of Olmsted and Vaux’s original design, the Central Park Conservancy has introduced nighttime lighting. As night falls, the Belvedere will be illuminated and visible from various locations in the park–most strikingly from across Turtle Pond.
Though many New Yorkers refer to the site as Belvedere Castle, “Belvedere” is actually Italian for “beautiful view” and refers to the vistas from the second-highest point in Central Park. Belvedere receives approximately one million visitors each year.
The Belvedere opened to the public in the early 1870s. Central Park’s co-designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux envisioned a place that would serve as a respite from the rest of the city, as well as a location to take in the beautiful views of the park. They designed a large terrace at the park’s second-highest point, known as Vista Rock, complete with pavilions and a miniature castle. Originally, the Belvedere provided views of the Croton Reservoir to the north (today the Great Lawn) and the Ramble to the South. And as it does today, it served as a beacon, visible from the Mall and Bethesda Terrace.
In 2016, the Conservancy kicked off a $300 million campaign that included the renovation of the castle and its surrounding playgrounds. The main purpose was to address drainage, waterproofing, and climate control systems along with deterioration that has occurred over the last 35 years.
The next phase of work is focused on making the Belvedere accessible. Preliminary plans are in the works for a new entrance from the pathway between the Belvedere and the East Drive.
Some tips for visiting the Belvedere, from the Conservancy:
- Head to Turtle Pond to see the full view of the Belvedere atop Vista Rock, its most majestic angle and a great photo op!
- Start your adventure lost in the beauty of nature with a northward stroll through the Ramble. Bring binoculars for birdwatching as a bonus!
- Beat the crowds by visiting the Belvedere first thing in the morning.
- Stop by the visitor center to speak with Conservancy staff. Summer hours are 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
- Take a staff-led tour to take in the sights and learn about the Belvedere (and its surrounding landscape). Kids love our Discovery Walks for Families–running every weekend!
The Belvedere will stay open until August 9th from 9am to 7pm. In the fall, winter, and spring, it will be open from 10am to 5pm, with the exception of major holidays.
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All photos and historic images courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy.