Posts Tagged ‘Vista Rock’

A “Victorian folly” in the middle of Central Park

April 1, 2013

Aside from many beautiful churches, there’s not a lot of Medieval-style architecture in New York City.

But there is Belvedere Castle, a Gothic structure in the middle of Central Park with a stone facade and turrets that’s meant to invoke the idea of a romantic Medieval villa.


Like so much of the nature-inspired yet artificial park, it was created purely out of Victorian folly, with no other purpose than to enchant visitors.

“Calvert Vaux, co-designer of Central Park, created the miniature castle in 1869 as one of its many whimsical structures intended as a lookout to the reservoir to the north (now the Great Lawn) and the Ramble to the south,” states the Central Park Conservatory.

CentralparkbelvedereBuilt as an open-air structure without doors or windows on a part of the park called Vista Rock, it almost looks as if the castle is rising out of the rock itself.

Belvedere Castle was called into service in 1919, when the United States Weather Bureau moved its observatory there. As the castle and the park fell into disrepair in the 1970s and 1980s, the weather bureau departed to another compound in the park.

It’s now a renovated and spiffed up visitor’s center and nature center, and climbing the winding stone steps leads to a wonderful vantage point to “take the view,” as Victorian-era New Yorkers would have said.

[Photo: Central Park Conservatory]