Don’t forget to admire the 15th century St. George’s Chapel, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture.
Windsor Castle is the largest occupied castle in the world. It has been an official residence of the English Royal Family for nearly 1,000 years, and the Queen stays here most weekends, and for a month during Easter. Even when she is not in residence, nearly 500 people live or work in the castle, a testament to its classic medieval combination of palace, fortress and small town. As an international symbol of British heritage, and one of the country’s most evocative and recognisable historic landmarks, Windsor Castle rarely fails to impress.
The castle was built by William the Conqueror shortly after his 1066 invasion, in an effort to consolidate his territorial gains and assert his rule over the land. Originally a simple motte and bailey construction, over the years its strategic proximity to the Thames led to several rounds of addition and reinforcement, notably by Henry II, King John and Edward III.
Onward and Upward
Visiting the castle today, the great walls loom above you from atop their 15m chalk outcrop. In the very centre of the motte stands the keep, the Round Tower, a colossal fortification in which the medieval garrison would once have been able to make their last stand. Around the tower are three “Wards”, or sections, which you can visit. Particularly impressive are the sumptuous state apartments in the Upper Ward. They were mostly designed by Jeffry Wyatville, who wanted each room to reflect a different school of design. The result is a kaleidoscope of opulence which both showcases the wealth of the generations of royals who have lived here, and also illustrates the changing styles of the times.
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