Windsor Castle is a masterpiece of architecture and the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. The Queen spends most of her private weekends at Windsor Castle. This is also the longest occupied palace in Europe which has served as home to 39 monarchs. The great thing is that the castle is open for public viewing throughout the year even when the Royal family is inside. Of-course you won’t be able to see or meet them. The Castle is really beautiful and so well managed, has magnificent structure and breathtaking views.
Visitors should book the tickets in advance and the best time to reach the castle is after mid-day. The castle is open everyday from 9.30 am to 5.15 pm. The ticket price is 23.50 GBP for adults and 13.50 GBP for children above 5 years as per 14th March 2020. There are many different packages for groups and families and many tour companies offer a combine tour package for you to visit Windsor Castle with Stonehenge and Bath.
History of Windsor Castle
The Windsor Castle was built in 11th century by William the Conqueror to protect Norman dominance around the borders of London and to oversee a very important part of River Thames and Windsor forest. Initially the castle was built with wood but was gradually replaced with stone fortifications. Henry I was the first King who used the castle as home. Henry III ordered to build a luxurious royal palace inside the castle in the mid of 13th century.
King Edward III was the one who spent a huge amount of money to rebuild a grand set of buildings in the castle that became the most expensive building project in England of that time. A lot of art works were collected, and decoration works were installed throughout the palace and castle. Unfortunately, in November 1992 a fire broke out and damaged almost 100 rooms and some of the art works. Almost 40 Million GBP were spent on the restoration works of these rooms in 1997.
The castle survived the attacks during First Baron’s war in 13th century, The English Civil war in 17th century and was also used as a royal refuge during the second world war.
6 Attractions at Windsor Castle
If you take the ceremonial route, you will see the main State apartments. These are used by the Queen and the members of Royal family to host official visits by head of states from other countries. These rooms are also used for many inauguration ceremonies, and awards ceremonies for British men and women for their outstanding achievements. The Grand Reception room is such a magnificently designed room with beautiful chandeliers and the red carpet at the floor making a path. There is a beautiful green large Malachite Urn near the large window, which was presented to Queen Victoria by Tsar Nicholas in 1839. The walls of this room have been decorated with gold. The room used to be a main ballroom in the castle and was destroyed in 1992. The room was restored in its original condition in 1997.
After the Grand Reception, you will see the Waterloo Chambers decorated with paintings, pictures, a lot of red chairs and a big beautiful banquet table. The gold roof is amazing with 5 beautiful chandeliers.
If you take the other route (Historic Route), you will see the rooms that were built for Charles II and his Queen. These are a series of room which get smaller as you move towards the more private areas. Admissions to these rooms were strictly controlled so that the only the most important people could gain access to King and Queen.
The semi-state apartments were created for George IV which feature lavish decorations and paintings. Some of the furnishing and fittings were taken from the Carlton’s house which was the former residence of George IV in London. These rooms are used by the Queen for official entertainment and events and are the most lavishly decorated rooms of the Windsor Castle.
Queen Mary’s Doll’s House
Queen Mary’s doll’s house was built between 1921 to 1924 by leading British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Queen Mary was the companion of George V. The doll house was built in a way that no stone was unturned to create a masterpiece which not only amuse but reflects the rich culture, architecture and art. The doll house has a dining room, library that is filled with more than 200 original works by the top writers of the time. There is a fully stocked wine cellar in the house, staircases, garden and rooms furnished with great details. The doll house has electricity, running cold and hot water and lifts that are operational.
This is a tour of the outer areas of the castle which is led by the Wardens. The tour keeps going on with regular intervals throughout the day from the Jubilee Bandstand which is at the start of the visit and ends at the entrance of the State Apartments. This is a 30-minutes tour that explores the 1000 years history of the castle.
The Moat Room of Windsor castle has three beautiful bronze models of the castle which shine so bright when the yellow lights touch them. These are the recent addition to the castle which try to show how Windsor castle looked in past and how did it evolve to become what it is today. The models display the castle in 1080, 1216 and 1377 when the maximum construction of the castle happened.
ST George’s Chapel
ST George’s Chapel in Windsor castle is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in England. The construction of the Chapel started in 1475 by King Edward IV. Henry VII added the magnificent stone ceiling to this amazing chapel. The Chapel has hosted many royal weddings including the recent wedding of Prince Henry and Ms. Meghan Markle.
There are also 10 tombs of the monarchs including Charles I, Henry VIII and his third wife. There are several splendid monuments inside the chapel. One of the famous marble memorials is of George IV’s only child, Princess Charlotte, who died in 1817 in childbirth. The chapel closes on Sunday for visitors as the chapel services are held all day. Only worshipers can enter to attend the services. The chapel also closes for 45 minutes from 16:15 to 17:00 everyday to prepare for the evening church services which start at 17:15.
Change of Guard Ceremony at Windsor Castle
This is one of the spectacular attractions at the castle. The handing over of duties between the two groups of guards. The ceremony is very colorful and a delight to watch with the bands playing the march music. The duties of guarding the castle are traditionally handed by the household troops which are known as “The Guards”. These guards are performing these duties since 1660.
Interesting Facts about the Windsor Castle
- The castle was not built for the purpose of living. It was built as a fortress to protect the Norman dominance around London. Later Henry I was the first Royal to use the castle as a residence.
- The castle is built on 13 acres of land and has around 1,000 rooms.
- Windsor castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world.
- The royals took refuge in this castle during the world war II. Queen Elizabeth II had to spend nights in the beetle infested dungeons.
- The castle has a few Ghost stories. Some guests have claimed to see a ghost like image of a large angry man in the halls who matches the resemblance of King Henry VIII.
- The kitchen of Windsor Castle is believed to be the oldest kitchen in the country.
- If you see the Royal Standard Flag instead of the Union Jack on the castle, it means that the Queen is present at the castle.
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