A brief description of Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle, the seat and bulwark of the monarchy in England for over 900 years and a reminder of William’s former conquests, stands on a hill in the Thames River valley.
Windsor Castle, England is considered to be the country’s most romantic attraction, according to Tripadvisor. According to the Guinness Book of World Records it is the biggest castle in the world. Even if you have never been to Britain, you have probably heard of it.
It has been the residence of the royal family for 900 years. It impresses even the most sophisticated travelers. In scale, sophistication and grandeur no castle in the Czech Republic, Austria or Poland can compare with it.
This is not a “dead” landmark, all year round there is a buzz of life. It hosts receptions of dignitaries from other countries, balls, and diplomatic meetings.
According to Queen Elizabeth II, it is her favorite stone giant, inferior even to Buckingham Palace.
But because of her busy schedule she can only stay here for two months a year (usually in May and June).
It’s nice that the castle, despite the fact that it is home to the royal family, is open to the curious eyes of tourists. That said, it is not an official museum.
History of the construction of Windsor Castle
The state abode was built in 1066, when the legendary William the Conqueror conquered the British Isles. All the buildings erected in those days had two goals: to prevent the invasion of the conquerors at any cost and to intimidate them.
During its 900-year history the castle was rebuilt and strengthened many times depending on the tastes of the owners and their financial resources. Under Henry of Anjou, the castle was fortified with walls of solid stone. Subsequent monarchs gradually rebuilt the existing structures. Although they look the same from the front, the interior layout looks considerably different.
The period of prosperity of the castle – XIV and XV centuries. Massive construction of new buildings, strengthening the main wall and the old buildings, protecting them from destruction.
In XVII century, the French Palace of Versailles became the standard of construction, King Charles II kept up with the times, many buildings were reconstructed in Baroque style, the English garden was laid out. George IV did his best. During his reign, a huge number of decorative elements appeared in the castle. Thanks to him, numerous buildings of different epochs were transformed into a harmonious architectural ensemble, striking the imagination.
Panoramic walk through the castle
The castle underwent a major restoration in 1992 following a fire that added modern furnishing elements to the interior. For example, the new interior of the History Room. Many mysterious stories and legends are associated with the castle.
Apart from the living royal family, like every other ancient English building, it is famous for its rich collection of ghosts: Anne Boleyn, the unhappy wife of Henry VIII was seen in the library, he himself was seen in the endless corridors of the castle.
A diagram of the castle
- A. “The Round Tower.
- B. The upper chambers, The Quadrangle (as this courtyard is known)
- C. The State Apartments.
- D. The Royal Apartments, view of the East Terrace
- E. South Wing, overlooking The Long Walk
- F. Lower Chambers
- G. St. George’s Chapel
- H. Horseshoe-shaped covered arcade
- L. The Long Walk
- K. The Gates of King Henry VIII (main entrance to the castle)
- M. Norman Gate
- N. North terrace
- O. Edward III Tower
- T. The Curfew Tower
Features when you visit.
You can easily purchase a ticket for a tour of the castle. Allocate a full day for it. You won’t be able to get around the huge grounds in a couple of hours, and it won’t be the same experience. The ticket price includes a visit to the palace and surrounding areas, audio guide (available in Russian) and a half-hour tour with a guide in a group. Despite the fact that this place is one of the main attractions of the country, there are no crowds of tourists as in the British Museum. The tours are well organized. Visitors are required to be quiet.
The tour begins with the Round Tower, the tallest building in the castle. This is the legendary place where King Arthur sat with his knights at the round table.
While the Round Tower develops the personal standard of Elizabeth II, it is currently located in the palace.
After a visit to the courtyard, the tour group will follow to Queen Mary’s Doll’s House. It features part toys, part exhibits, and part beautiful layouts of how the monarchs have lived in the palace throughout its 900-year history. A favorite exhibit of children, there are a lot of them here.
Next, you’ll take a self-guided tour of the palace’s magnificent halls. Here you can see paintings by great European masters: Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Velasquez, Raphael, Van Gogh and many others.
The St. George’s Hall is another curious place of the castle. Be sure to pay attention to the ceiling, it depicts heraldic symbols of knights, among them three Russian coats of arms: Alexander I, II and Nicholas I. They, too, were knighted.
Be sure to take a walk through the magnificent park adjacent to the grounds. If you are lucky, you can see the changing of the guard.
How to get to Windsor Castle: The best way is to take a train from the infamous King’s Cross Station.
Opening hours: May to October 9:30 to 5:30 p.m., closed at other times of the year. Tickets to the abode of antiquity, ghosts and the royal crown are best purchased on the train. Significantly save time, there is a large queue at the entrance to the ticket office. Tickets cost £15 for adults.
Address: Windsor, Windsor and Maidenhead SL4 1NJ, United Kingdom Phone: +44 20 7766 7304
Not far from the British capital, where Queen Elizabeth II’s official residence is located, there is a small town called Windsor. Most likely, it would have remained a little-known provincial town if centuries ago the rulers of England had not built here, on the curved bank of the Thames, a beautiful palace.
Today Windsor Castle is world famous as a summer residence of English monarchs, and hundreds and thousands of tourists come to the city every day to see this architectural marvel and the art treasures kept there, to hear new interesting facts about its history and details about the life of the queen. It is also worth remembering that since 1917, the royal family has carried the surname Windsor, taken after the city and the castle, to forget about the German roots.
Almost a thousand years ago, William I ordered a ring of fortresses to be built around London, rising on man-made hills to protect it. One such strategic fortress was the wooden castle at Windsor, surrounded by walls. It was built about 30 kilometers from London in about 1070.
From 1110 the castle served as a temporary or permanent residence for the English monarchs: they lived here, hunted, entertained, married, born, imprisoned and died. Many kings loved this place, so out of the wooden fortress rather quickly grew a stone castle with courtyards, church, towers.
Many times the fortress was destroyed and partially burnt as a result of attacks and sieges, but each time it was rebuilt taking into account the past mistakes: new watchtowers were built, the gates and the hill itself were reinforced and stone walls were added.
A fine palace came into the castle under Henry III, and Edward III erected a building for the meetings of the Order of the Garter. The War of the Scarlet and White Rose (15th century), as well as the Parliamentarian and Royalist Civil War (mid 17th century) caused serious damage to the buildings of Windsor Castle. Many of the artistic and historical treasures held in the royal palace and church were also damaged or destroyed.
By the end of the 17th century, the reconstruction of Windsor Castle was finished, and some rooms and courtyards were opened for tourists. A major restoration took place under George IV: the facades were redesigned, the towers were added, Waterloo Hall was built, and the interior decoration and furnishings were updated. In this new form Windsor Castle became the principal residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their many dependants. The queen and her husband were buried not far away at Frogmore, a country residence about 1 km from the structure.
In the late 19th century, a water supply and electricity were installed in the palace, while in the 20th century – central heating was built, garages for the cars of the royal car park were built, and a telephone connection was established. In 1992 there was a major fire that damaged a hundred rooms. To raise money to rebuild, it was decided to begin collecting fees for a visit to Windsor Park and Buckingham Palace in London.
Today Windsor Castle is considered the largest and most beautiful residential castle in the whole world. Its grounds cover a plot of land 165×580 m. To keep order and organize the tour rooms, as well as to maintain the royal chambers and gardens, the palace employs about half a thousand people, with some of them living here on a permanent basis.
About a million people a year visit the palace for tours, with a particularly large influx of tourists during scheduled visits by the Queen. Elizabeth II comes to Windsor in spring for a month and in June for a week. She also makes short visits to meet with officials of her country and foreign countries. The royal standard, hoisted over the palace on such days, announces the presence at Windsor Castle of the highest person in the land. Ordinary tourists have very little chance to meet her, the Queen uses a separate entrance to the Upper Palace.
What to see
The royal family plays no practical role in English politics, but is a symbol of the country’s power, permanence and wealth. Windsor Castle, like Buckingham Palace, is designed to support this statement. Therefore, the beautiful and luxurious residence of the monarch is open to visitors every day, although officially it is not a museum.
To see the whole construction will have to spend several hours, and tourists are not allowed in all its corners. Crowds inside never happens, because the number of visitors is regulated. It is recommended to book group tours in advance.
You should behave calmly, after all, this is the place of residence of the Queen and the meetings of high-ranking people. At the entrance to Windsor Castle you can not only buy tickets, but also buy a detailed map and audio guide. With this electronic guide it is convenient to walk alone, without joining a group, he gives a detailed description of all the important places. Audio guides are offered in different languages, including Russian.
The most interesting sight, for which some tourists come here several times, is the changing of the guard. The royal guards, who watch over the order and safety of the monarch family, conduct a changing of the guard ceremony every day in the warm season, and every other day at 11:00 in the cold season. This action usually lasts 45 minutes and is accompanied by an orchestra, but in case of bad weather the time is shortened, and musical accompaniment is canceled.
During the tours, tourists pay great attention to the following attractions:
- Round Tower . Usually tours begin with this 45-meter tower. It was built on a hill as an observation point with a good view of the surrounding area. The legendary Knights of the Round Table sat there and today the flag flying over the tower announces the presence of the Queen at Windsor Castle.
- Queen Mary’s Doll’s House . Created in the 1920s not for the purpose of play, but to capture the life and livelihood of the royal family. Measuring 1.5×2.5 meters, the toy house introduces the interiors of the entire English royal palace at a scale of 1/12. Here you can see not only miniature pieces of furniture, but even tiny pictures, plates and cups, bottles and books. Elevators and plumbing work in the lodge, and electricity is turned on.
- St. George’s Hall . Its ceiling depicts heraldic symbols of knights of the Order of the Garter. Attentive visitors can see the coats of arms of Alexander I, Alexander II and Nicholas I, knighted among them.
Other rooms and halls are also worth seeing:
They are open to visitors on days when there are no official receptions. In the halls visitors can see ancient tapestries, paintings by famous artists, antique furniture, collections of porcelain and unique library exhibits.
A visit to Windsor Castle introduces visitors to important pages of British history, and opens up a world of luxury and grandeur of English monarchs.
The opening hours of the guided tours are 9:30-17:30 from March to October, and until 16:15 in winter. It is not allowed to take photos inside the St. George’s Chapel, but tourists try to make photos with their phones. In the courtyard, people are free to take pictures.
From London you can get to Windsor Castle (Berkshire) by cab, bus or train. The entrance tickets are sold directly on trains to Windsor Station from Paddington Station (with a change in Slough) and Waterloo. It’s very convenient – you don’t have to queue at the gate.