Those visiting New York’s Central Park for the first time might be surprised to find on the map a castle. But to New Yorker’s, Belvedere Castle is the backdrop for Shakespeare in the Park, a common meeting place and a well loved landmark.
In 1869, Belvedere Castle was built as a folly (a building meant for decoration) by the designer of Central Park, Calvert Vaux and the sculptor Jacob Wrey Mould. It is built on the summit of Vista Rock, which is the second highest elevation in the park. When it was first built, the castle tower looked out over the Receiving Reservoir, which was destroyed in the 1890s and replaced by the Great Lawn.
Originally constructed with open windows and doors, the building now houses the Henry Luce Nature Observatory as well as a host of family events and community programs such as “On A Wing” birding programs, stargazing, astronomy talks, storytimes with the Princess of Belvedere Castle, and the “Spooks at Belvedere” haunted castle event every Halloween. Belvedere Castle is also where Count von Count lives on Sesame Street.