For almost 1000 years, the Windsor Castle has been the proud home for the British Monarch. In fact, it is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world today. The history of this magnificent castle started when William the Conqueror built it around 1066. Aside from being one of the official royal residences, a venue for state visits and the preferred weekend home for the Queen, Windsor Castle is also a huge tourist attraction.
Situated in the county of Berkshire, England, this glorious structure is hard to miss with its battlements and intimidating towers that dominate the skyline. It is definitely an impressive site as its walls and architecture is magnificently preserved even after all the centuries. Indeed it is fortunate that such a magnificent working castle opens its doors for tourists to get a glimpse of its history and royal heritage.
The castle is open to public visits every day, year round on a slightly varied schedule. From March to October, it is open from 9:45 am to 5:15 pm, but from November through February, you can visit it from 9:45 am to 4:15 pm. Mornings are definitely the busier visiting period, so if you visit in the early afternoon, you will most likely deal with a lesser crowd.
You can definitely explore the Windsor Castle as an independent visitor and you can also enjoy the exploration with an audio guide, which is included in the admission price. Audio guides are conveniently available in 8 languages. There is also the option of going with a scheduled classic guided tour that leaves near the entrance of the castle. Exploring the castle’s different sections usually takes 90 minutes to 3 hours.
The exquisite State Apartments are the highlights of your visit to Windsor. These rooms are elegantly decorated with some of the finest artwork in the United Kingdom and perhaps, in the world. Some of the areas that will truly impress and fascinate you at the same time include the Drawings Gallery, St. George’s Chapel, the Royal Collection, and Queen Mary’s Doll’s House, which is probably the most popular doll houses in the world.
The Gothic designed St George’s Chapel remains a functioning church that conducts daily services. But it is also the final resting place for ten royals like Henry VIII and wife Jane Seymour. There are times that the Windsor Castle becomes a host to seasonal art exhibits. Photography, video recording, food and drinks are not allowed inside the State Apartments.
Aside from the remarkable apartments in the castle, another anticipated event that typically makes tourists click their cameras is the Changing of the Guard, which takes place from 11:00am to 11:30am. Thus, it is very common for visitors on coach tours to stay until this time before heading to other attractions. The Changing of the Guard ceremony includes the marching of the band through the barracks and part of the town. So even if you are not within the castle grounds, you can still witness the marching through the Guildhall and Old Town.
Before you head over excitedly to the Windsor Castle, take note that this official residence is at times close for state visits. To avoid disappointment, check the schedule on the castle’s official website prior to your visit.