Alors que le Buckingham Palace is open to the public only a few months a year, Windsor Castle welcomes visitors all year round. This royal residence which is situated on the banks of the Thames some XNUMX kilometers west of London is both a popular tourist attraction and the preferred residence of Queen Elizabeth II.
It is also at Windsor Castle that is held every year in June, the procession of the Order of the Garter.
History of Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval fortress whose construction began in the XNUMXth century, following the conquest of England by William the Conqueror. It is transformed and enlarged during the reigns of the various monarchs. It is thus adorned with medieval, Gothic, Georgian, Victorian and neo-Gothic elements.
On November 20, 1992, the south wing of the castle was devastated by a fire which caused serious damage and led to a lively media-political controversy over who should finance the work: the government or the royal family? Windsor Castle being the property of the crown, maintenance and repair costs are traditionally the responsibility of the British government and therefore of the taxpayer !!!
In the end, half of the bill is covered by the government and the other by Elisabeth II, who to finance the costs decides on the one hand to open the public to the public. Buckingham Palace at certain times of the year and on the other hand, increase the entrance fee to the park around Windsor.
Today Windsor is considered the oldest inhabited castle in the world where the Queen hosts state visits and foreign presidents.
Elisabeth II stays there most weekends but also from March to April and a week in June when she comes to attend the very prestigious Royal Ascot horse race.
What do we visit at Windsor Castle?
With its 1000 rooms and a total area of 52 m000, Windsor is the largest castle in the world. Only the northern part is open to the public, which is more than enough, given the proportions of the fortress!
State Apartments - State Apartments
The State Apartments are furnished with the finest works of art from the Royal Collection. The paintings are the work of the greatest masters such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto, Van Dyck ...
It is in this part of the castle that we discover, among other things, the Waterloo lounge where the British victory against the French is celebrated every year !! The king's bedroom where Napoleon III and Eugenie slept during an official visit. Or the ballroom where Queen Elisabeth receives foreign heads of state.
The list is long and the enumeration of all the rooms would be tiresome to read….
Semi-State Rooms (open from October to March)
The visit of the castle continues in the private apartments created for King George IV where you can visit the hall of lanterns, the green room, or the garter room.
The Semi-State Rooms are richly decorated and are used by the Queen for official receptions.
Queen Mary's dolls house - Maison de Poupée de Queen Mary
Created in the 1920s for Queen Mary, Queen Mary's dolls house is the largest and most beautiful dollhouse in the world. This miniature aristocrat's house created in the scale of 1:12 (one inch to one foot) is filled with thousands of artisanal items such as furniture, draperies, rugs. The dollhouse is also equipped with electricity, hot and cold water and fully equipped bathrooms!
Saint George’s Chapel – Chapelle St George
A visit to St George's Chapel is a wonder for the eyes! There is no doubt that you will be dazzled by its arched fan vault and its stained glass windows rich in refined details. This XNUMXth century chapel which is dedicated to the patron saint St George, protector of England is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England.
In 1348, King Edward III of England made the chapel the cradle of the Order of the Garter, which became the highest order of chivalry in England.
It is also in this chapel that rest 10 monarchs including George V, Henry VIII, Charles I, George VI and - since 2002 - his wife Elisabeth, the queen mother.
The chapel closes its doors at 16:00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday in order to prepare for the sung mass provided by the choir of the Chapel of Saint-Georges, which begins at 17 p.m. Free. If you arrive at the castle in the early afternoon, start by visiting La Chapelle before going to see the castle.
The castle garden
Within the walls of the castle and at the foot of the round tower, there is a small bucolic garden where you can sit and contemplate the castle. Access to the garden is chargeable (£ 2) and the funds raised are for the benefit of an association.
Visiting Windsor Castle with children
During school holidays and every Saturday, a thematic activity trail is offered to children, failing which a visit kit with coloring is given to children on request.
Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle
La Changing of the Guard in Windsor is held Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:00 am, weather permitting! Please note that there is no changing of the guard on Sunday!
Duration: 45 min
The change takes place inside the castle, next to the Saint-Georges Chapel. so visitors must purchase a ticket to watch the ceremony.
When to visit Windsor Castle?
In order for your visit to be complete, I advise you to visit the castle between September and March when the semi-state rooms are open to the public.
In addition, during this period prefer the days when the changing of the guard is assured, namely Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday! For that, arrive in the morning to have time to visit the whole of the castle but also the charming city of Windsor where it is very pleasant to walk and even to do shopping. There are also some English brands that cannot be found in France such as Joules and Fat & Face.
- Photographs are strictly prohibited inside Windsor Castle and St George's Chapel.
- Duration of the visit between 2h30 and 3h00.
- Audio guide in French included in the price of the visit.
- Accessible to wheelchair users.
- Ticket valid for one year, have it stamped at the end of the visit.
- You can interrupt your visit (for lunch in town for example). Bracelet to take at the exit.
- Finally, if the Union Jack floats on Windsor Castle it means that the Queen does not reside there.
Where to buy tickets for the visit of Windsor Castle?
First of all, I advise you to anticipate and buy your ticket on the internet so that you do not have to queue. Visiting Windsor Castle attracts tourists from all over the world and therefore access to the monument can be long ...
You can book your entry either on the GetYourGuide website, or on the website of the British Tourist Office
Finally, if you have the London Pass, the visit of the castle is included in the offer.
The Windsor Castle tour is free for children less than 5 years old.
Windsor Castle Hours of Operation
March to October
Open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 17:30 p.m. (last admission 16:00 p.m.)
November to February
Open every day from 9:45 a.m. to 16:15 p.m. (last admission 15:00 p.m.)
May 5: Closed 16:30 p.m. - last admission 15:00 p.m.
May 26: Closed 16:00 p.m. - last admission 14.30:XNUMX p.m.
June 15: Closed 16:00 p.m. - last admission 14.30:XNUMX p.m.
Closed the 25 and 26 december
How to get to Windsor Castle?
The castle outside the charging zones of the London public transport network. Therefore, the Travelcard andOyster Card do not cover this area and you will need to purchase an additional ticket.
In order to benefit from a more advantageous price, anticipate your purchase and buy your ticket online by going to the website of trainline.
In addition, children over 5 years old will also need to have a ticket.
The castle can be reached from 2 London stations: Waterloo station and Paddington station. The journey time from these two stations is different.
Make your choice according to the neighborhood where you are staying. If like me, for example, you are in the Borough Market district, it is faster to get to Waterloo station ...
- Departure from Waterloo station
Path : Direct Travel time : 55 min
Take the South West Train and get off at Windsor & Eton Riverside (Terminus).
- Depart from Paddington station
Path : 1 match Travel time : about 30 min
Take the First Great Western train, change trains at Slough Station and stop at Windsor & Eton Central station
After Buckingham Palace, Windsor is the second royal residence where Queen Elisabeth II stays in a private and public capacity when she receives foreign heads of state.
A visit to the castle brings together British history in general and the monarchy in particular. Like Hampton Court Palace, the visit is extremely rich. Plan to spend the day in Windsor to have enough time to wander around the city and peacefully visit the fortress.
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