Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle information

Prices
adult/child £17/10
Opening hours
9.45am-5.15pm
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The largest and oldest occupied fortress in the world, Windsor Castle is a majestic vision of battlements and towers used for state occasions and as the Queen's weekend retreat.

William the Conqueror first established a royal residence in Windsor in 1070; since then successive monarchs have rebuilt, remodelled and refurbished the castle complex to create the massive and sumptuous palace that stands here today. Henry II replaced the wooden stockade in 1165 with a stone round tower and built the outer walls to the north, east and south; Charles II gave the state apartments a baroque makeover; George IV swept in with his preference for Gothic style; and Queen Victoria refurbished a beautiful chapel in memory of her beloved Albert.

Join a free guided tour (every half-hour) or take a multilingual audio tour of the lavish state rooms and beautiful chapels. The State Apartments and St George's Chapel are closed at times during the year. If the Queen is in residence, you'll see the Royal Standard flying from the Round Tower.

Queen Mary's Dolls' House

Your first sight will be an incredible dolls' house, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens for Queen Mary in 1924. The attention to detail is spellbinding – there's running water, electricity and lighting, tiny Crown Jewels and vintage wine in the cellar!

State Apartments

The Grand Staircase sets the tone for the rooms, and highlights include St George's Hall : on the ceiling, the shields of the Knights of the Garter (originally from George IV's time here) were re-created after the fire of 1992. The blank shields indicate knights who had fallen out of favour.

For intimate gatherings (just 60 people), the Queen entertains in the Waterloo Chamber , its paintings commemorating the victory over Napoleon.

The King's Dressing Room has some of the most important Renaissance paintings in the royal collection. Alongside Sir Anthony van Dyck's magnificent Triple Portrait of Charles I, you will see works by Hans Holbein, Rembrandt and Peter Paul Rubens.

St George's Chapel

This elegant chapel, commissioned for the Order of the Garter by Edward IV in 1475, is one of Britain's finest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture. The nave and fan-vaulted roof were completed under Henry VII, but the final nail was struck under Henry VIII in 1528.

The chapel – along with Westminster Abbey – serves as a royal mausoleum . The most recent royal burial occurred in April 2002, when the body of George VI's widow, the Queen Mother (1900–2002), was transported here in a splendid and sombre procession and interred alongside her husband. In April 2005, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles were blessed here following their civil marriage in the town's Guildhall.

St George's Chapel closes on Sunday, but time your visit well and you can attend Evensong at 5.15pm daily except Wednesday.

Albert Memorial Chapel

Originally built in 1240 and dedicated to Edward the Confessor, this small chapel was the place of worship for the Order of the Garter until St George's Chapel snatched that honour. After the death of Prince Albert at Windsor Castle in 1861, Queen Victoria ordered its elaborate redecoration as a tribute to her husband. A major feature of the restoration is the magnificent vaulted roof, whose gold mosaic pieces were crafted in Venice. There's a monument to the prince, although he's actually buried with Queen Victoria in the Frogmore Royal Mausoleum in the castle grounds.

Windsor Great Park

Stretching behind Windsor Castle almost all the way to Ascot, Windsor Great Park covers about 40 sq miles and features a lake, walking tracks, a bridleway and gardens. The Savill Garden is particularly lovely and located about 4 miles south of Windsor Castle. Take the A308 out of town and follow the brown signs.

The Long Walk is a 3-mile jaunt along a tree-lined path from King George IV Gate to the Copper Horse statue (of George III) on Snow Hill, the highest point of the park. The Queen can occasionally be spotted driving down the Long Walk, accompanied only by a bodyguard.

Changing of the Guard

A fabulous spectacle, with triumphant tunes from a military band and plenty of foot stamping, the changing of the guard (11am Mon-Sat Apr-Jul, alternate days Aug-Mar) draws crowds to the castle gates each day to watch the smartly attired lads in red uniforms and bear-fur hats do their thing. Stay to the right of the crowd for better views.