Belvedere Castle…Is It Really a Castle?

Belvedere Castle in Central Park

View of Belvedere Castle in Central Park

For those of you who’ve never been inside a real castle, Belvedere Castle is a treat. It’s not a real castle, per se, but rather what was called a ‘folly’ in the Victorian era. Follies were meant to resemble the real deal but were usually scaled down and made to look mysterious. Their purpose was to excite the imagination of the viewer as well as complement the surrounding landscape.

Belvedere fits that bill to a ‘t’. It sits on the highest point in Central Park (approx. 90 feet above sea level). It was also made to look like a real castle but at about 1/3 the scale. The pagodas on its first two levels aren’t a part of the design of an actual castle but were meant to protect visitor from inclement weather. In fact, the castle was used as a weather station until weather was digitized and reported via satellite, so it was only a façade for decades.

Nonetheless, this ‘castle’ is what Christopher sees when he first enters the park in Central Park Story and encounters its first mystery–the mythical dragon or ‘cockatrice’.

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