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Central Park: nature in the heart of the city
by Sarahontheroad
Central Park: nature in the heart of the city
What to do and see in Central park
There are so many things to see and do in Central Park that the place alone would justify a trip to New York. So give yourself plenty of time to visit this oasis of greenery and book a hotel in New York for a long weekend.

Finalized in 1873 by landscape architects Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, Central Park is a 341-hectare green oasis in the middle of Manhattan's skyscraper forest. Each year, the site attracts more than 37 million visitors and is one of the city's major attractions. Calvert Vaux had designed the park to be "a celebration of the monumental American nature, designed to be accessible to the greatest number of people." Today, you will find artificial lakes, waterfalls and ponds, two ice rinks, a wildlife protection area, paths for hiking, horseback riding and cycling, and many lawns for outdoor activities. In all seasons, the park also offers many attractions and activities. This green place is in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of New York City, its many crowds, its intense car traffic. 

Here are the must-see places to visit:

Central Park Zoo

Created in 1984, the new zoo is home to more than 150 species from tropical, temperate and polar areas. One of the most visited places is the sea lions' swimming pool. Surrounded by lush vegetation, it offers an elegant glass design that allows spectators to see these carnivorous animals perform an elegant underwater choreography. At the Tisch Children's Zoo, the youngest can see goats, sheep, a cow and a Vietnamese pig up close and feed them by hand. In the centre of the zoo is the Enchanted Forest. Craftsmen have imagined a dreamlike setting of great charm: colossal remains of primitive oaks, oversized acorns, a giant spider. Nearby is the large aviary, where you can see turtles and frogs living in harmony with birds. Finally, don't forget to stop in front of the George Delacorte musical clock, with its sculptures of Frederick GR Roth dating from 1935. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., every hour and a half, a bear with a tambourine, a hippopotamus with a violin, a goat with a pan flute, a kangaroo with a horn and a penguin with a drum turn around the base of the clock, while one of his 44 musical tunes is played. From March to June, the nursery rhymes are replaced by spring melodies, while in winter the well-known tunes of Winter Wonderland or Jingle Bells are performed!

Belvedere Castle

Located on Vista Rock, this Scottish style neo-Gothic castle was designed in 1869 to be a lookout point. It offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the park and its urban surroundings. Since 1919, it has housed the national meteorological observatory. Inside, the Henry Luce Nature Observatory allows visitors to discover a sample of the fauna and flora in the park.

Shakespeare Garden

Here you will find only flowers and plants mentioned in Shakespeare's works: on bronze plaques scattered throughout the garden, you can read quotes from the masterpieces of the great English playwright. Nearby is the Delacorte Theater, where free plays, including many Shakespeare's works, are performed from May to August.

Bethesda Fountain and Terrace

Bethesda Terrace, the heart of Central Park, was originally designed by Calvert Vaux and Olmsted as a scenic walk that would lead to a large terrace overlooking the lake. The sculptures represent the Seasons and Hours. In summer, water lilies and lotuses are placed in the Bethesda Fountain, reviving a 19th century tradition. The famous Angel of the Waters with his wings spread over this fountain. The statue refers to the Gospel of John and the episode at the Bethesda swimming pool where Christ heals paralytics. The fountain is also a tribute to Croton's hydraulic system, which provided New York with drinking water from 1842 onwards. The angel carries, in his left hand, a lily that symbolizes the purity of the water, a very important symbol for a city that suffered from a devastating cholera epidemic, before the Croton system was put in place. Made in 1873 by Emma Stebbins, the statue is the first public contribution of a female sculptor in America. 

And if you're too tired for visits, just lie on the green grass or picnic in Sheep Meadow. Because Central Park is designed above all to be green in the heart of the city. Strolling along its lakes, enjoying the beauty of its gardens, discovering its fauna and flora is already a change of scenery in itself. Half of the tourists who visit the "Big Apple" go to Central Park to get some air. You too, do as they do!

central park, zoo, new york, belvedere castle, shakespeare garden
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