Windsor Castle is near the top of most people’s “must see” list when visiting England. Windsor Castle is located just 20 miles west of London, England and is the longest occupied castle in Europe. In addition to being the longest occupied castle it is also the largest castle in Europe. Saying it is large is an understatement, the castle’s floor area is approximately 484,000 square feet and the complex grounds cover 13 acres.
To provide a little perspective, the average super size mall is 400,000 square feet. Windsor Castle has over 1,000 rooms, more than 300 fireplaces, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 78 bathrooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms and 19 state rooms and an estimated worth of $574 million.
Windsor Castle was built over 900 years ago and the outer walls of today’s structure are in the same position as those of the original castle built by William the Conqueror in the 1070s.
While the castle walls may be in the same position as the walls of the original castle, I am sure today’s walls don’t look anything like they did nearly 1,000 years ago. Today’s walls are very substantial and are reminiscent of what a European castle should look like.
It is hard to try to describe everything because the Windsor Castle is so big but there are several notable features that will help to get a big picture view of the castle. The outside wall of the castle has several notable feature that I think are important to highlight.
The Henry VIII Gateway is the main entrance to the castle and is the link between the castle and the town of Windsor. Entering through the gate leads to the lower ward of the castle. The photo below was taken in the lower ward looking out to the town.
Henry III Tower forms part of the exterior wall of the castle but the photos below of the tower were both taken from inside the castle walls.
Edward III Tower is also part of the exterior wall of the castle and near St. George’s Gateway. The photo below are of Edward III Tower and St. Georg’s Gateway to the left as viewed from outside the castle.
Inside the castle walls
The most important places of the castle are located inside the castle walls. Understandably, only certain portions of the castle are open for the public to see and there is no photography allow inside so the photos included are just the outside of these building.
St. George’s Chapel is an active center for worship with daily services open to all. Many royal weddings have been celebrated in the chapel including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018. Funerals for the royal family have been held in the chapel including the recent committal service for Queen Elizabeth II.
The Round Tower is located in the middle ward on top of a small hill. The tower houses the Royal Archives and the Royal Photograph Collection. The tower is partially surrounded by the Moat Garden which has the quintessential English Garden feel with a little terrace and a pathway.
Norman Gate is the entryway between the middle ward and the upper ward of the castle. The first photo below shows the full gate with the Moat Garden in the foreground. The Second photo is just the upper portion of the gate taken from the North Terrace.
The Upper Ward is a nicely manicured lawn area with State Apartments, private apartments and visitor apartments in the buildings surrounding the lawn.
The East Terrace Garden is a formal garden with 3,500 rose bushes planted in a geometric pattern around a fountain along with clipped domes of shrubs. Small cannons are stationed at the wall of the East Terrace.
The view from the Windsor Castle is really nice. Most of the castle is surrounded by park land but there is a small area of trees along the northern side of the castle. The three photos below were taken from the North Terrace.
A couple of activities around the castle that might be interesting are the changing of the guard and hiring a carriage ride to take you around the exterior of the castle.
The changing of the guard ceremony takes place in the Lower Ward inside Windsor Castle at 11:00 AM and sentries are changed throughout the day.
I think most people visiting London for the first time will probably put Windsor Castle on their schedule of places to visit. I know it was on my list.
Part of the United Kingdom’s culture is the long history of the Royal Family. It is a never ending story of kings, queens, princes and princesses. At some point, most people probably try to imagine what it would be like to be royalty. Visiting Windsor Castle provides a small glimpse into the royal life and experiences.
The United Kingdom is loaded with castles. Windsor Castle is always listed as the top rated castle in the United Kingdom. I have visited several castles in the United Kingdom and I am not sure that I can say that Windsor Castle is my favorite but it is a must see castle primarily because of its size, the history that it has and its connection to the Royal Family.