Windsor Castle is one of the official residencies of Queen Elizabeth II. A visit here is bound to be a fantastic experience. Worldwide, it is the largest and oldest still inhabited castle. It has a Gothic chapel as well as numerous residential and working buildings spread over 10 ha of land. Enjoy a fascinating guided tour through the Queen's most favourite residency.
The state rooms in baroque style once used to be a British prestige project and were seen to be standing in direct competition with Versailles Palace in France. Up to this very day, the castle has been home to 39 monarchs in total. Bigger events or ceremonies are held in St. George's Hall, a 185 ft long room (56 m). There is room for 160 persons to be taking place at the big round. The staff of the castle usually uses “tools” such as rulers to position the table arrangement as exactly as possible to make sure it's all perfect for the pictures and according to royal practices.
The state apartments are famous for their art collection, including artwork by Rubens, Van Dyke, Breughel, Bronzino, Canaletto and Gibbons. Apart from the impressive art collection you find the Waterloo Room in the castle. It serves the last honour of all soldiers who were victorious over Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo. The room itself is filled with paintings by Sir Thomas Lawrence. Make sure you don't miss the Indian carpet, the largest seamless carpet in the world. It is said that one needs more than 50 men to roll the carpet.
The best time of the year to be visiting Windsor Castle is between October and March when the spectacular private rooms of George IV are made publicly accessible. These rooms are richly ornamented with fine objects as George IV was inclined to theatrical performances. Nowadays, the Queen uses those for official appointments.
St. George's Chapel
This Gothic chapel serves as a cleric centre of the Order of the Garter, the highest order of knights in Britain. An impressive highlight is the fan vault made from stone, where ten former kings and members of royal families rest in peace, for instance, Henry VIII with his third wife Jane Seymour or Charles I and many other members of royal aristocracy. Three times a day a service is held in the chapel, which all visitors are invited to join when here. There is one exception, though. On Sunday, the chapel's doors remain closed.
In total, 14 royal weddings have taken place here.
Queen Mary's Dolls' House
This doll house is probably the most famous and largest one of its kind worldwide. Around 1,500 craftsmen were busy for more than three years (1921-1924) building this little girls' dream as detailed as possible. All was designed by Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, the architect of this masterpiece.
It is filled with miniature replicas of real-life furniture, decoration and facilities of the castle. You find, for instance, the library at a scale of 1:12 including replicas of original books, the wine cellar filled with fine wine and a garden. The entire dolls' house is a small wonder of technical achievement as it is fully fitted with electrical light and equipped with full sanitary facilities, including a functioning toilet flushing.
Changing the Guard
Changing the guard is a traditional event that is accompanied by a military band. Each day, exactly at 11am on the dot you may witness this 45-minutes long ceremony. This tradition has lasted since 1660 consisting of five infantry units (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards and two troops of the house (Life Guards and Blues and Royals). Guard Mounting starts with the formation of the Windsor Castle guard while the new guard moves in with music. After the change and the swap of sides of the guards, the leaving guard moves on towards the city heading to the Victoria Barracks. What a ceremony!