Monday, December 5, 2011

A Visit to Central Park's Belvedere Castle

Central Park is easy to get lost in, and never more so than if you're new to New York or just here for a visit. Even after four years in New York, there are still nooks and crannies that I haven't explored.

Now, however, I have my favorite Central Park spots. Toward the top of that list is Belvedere Castle.

We came across Belvedere Castle our first spring in New York. Then (as we often still do now) we explored Central Park almost at random, finding the closest park entrance to whatever subway line we happened to be on, then choosing a winding path and turning right or left whenever the mood struck. And that's how we found Belvedere Castle.

From one angle, the castle rises majestically on a cliff above a body of water. From the opposite way -- the way we first came upon it -- it's more abrupt. Path, then pow -- a castle.

It's not a castle in the traditional sense, unless all you need for a castle is a turret. It's certainly not fit for a king -- although it is bigger than many New York City apartments. The most appealing part of Belvedere Castle, however, is the view from the top. Two spiral staircases drop you off on the first and second floors, providing lovely views of the park and the city skyline.

Fun fact: Belvedere Castle is also the location where Central Park's thermometer is read for the National Weather Service.

It might be more fun to come across Belvedere Castle as a surprise, but it's pretty easy to get to as a Central Park destination, too. It's in the middle of the park at 79th Street, easily and equally accessible from both the Upper West Side and Upper East Side.

View from second floor, looking onto first floor balcony and just outside the entrance

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