Belvedere Castle Is Open Again for the Summer in Central Park

Belvedere Castle Is Open Again for the Summer in Central Park

The castle has been restored to its former glory over the last 15 months.

Now that summer is in full swing, many parents are looking for unique activities for their kids beyond the usual sports games, beach trips, and outdoor concerts. One activity that would be a little different is visiting the historic Belvedere Castle in Central Park, which reopens on June 28 and has been restored and repaired to its original glory over the last 15 months. Belvedere can be found atop Vista Rock, the park’s second-highest point, in the middle of the park at 79th Street. The castle’s name translates to “beautiful view” in Italian; visitors can see the Great Lawn, Turtle Pond, the Delacorte Theater, and more from the castle’s vantage points.

“The Belvedere has a special place in the hearts of New Yorkers and visitors alike, who tell us they feel like royalty taking in the incredible views,” said Elizabeth W. Smith, President & CEO of the Central Park Conservancy. “We at the Central Park Conservancy are proud of our work at the Belvedere, which, like the rest of the Park was designed to provide an oasis from the stress of the city and is free to the public.”

Belvedere opened 150 years ago, when co-designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux wanted to create a space for visitors to enjoy Central Park’s vast landscape. Construction began in 1867, when Olmsted and Vaux wanted to replace an old bell tower by the old Receiving Reservoir that the public considered an “eye-sore” according to the Central Park Conservatory (CPC). In 1869, they constructed a terrace with pavilions and a miniature castle at the edge of the reservoir. The Belvedere opened to the public in 1872, immediately attracting a crowd of visitors with picturesque sights secluded from their busy and bustling city. By the early 1900s, the castle had already gained a reputation as a popular destination for Park visitors, landing spots on postcards and guidebooks.

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The sight’s recent restoration, which was funded by The Thompson Family Foundation for $12 million, involved repairing some of the castle’s original historic elements while installing a geothermal system to cool and heat the Castle’s interior. This green design mission required workers digging 400 feet into Vista Rock to form a zero emissions, energy efficient and environmentally sustainable system.

This summer, you can bring the kids on new CPC-ran tours of the Belvedere, including “The Belvedere: Beautiful View Tour” which provides visitors with views of the vista’s Great Lawn from the castle while also teaching them about the sight’s history and preservation. “Discovery Walks for Families: Turtle Pond” is also another available tour where guides will teach visitors about the five species of turtles who live in the Pond year-round, the Pond’s history, and how to maintain a healthy water-body through guided kid-friendly activities.

The Conservancy’s Belvedere Castle Visitor Center will be open from June 28–August 9 from 9am-7pm and from 10am-5pm in fall, winter, and spring (excluding major holidays). To learn more or book a tour at the Conservatory, visit centralparknyc.org, or follow the Central Park Conservatory on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @centralparknyc.

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