Windsor Castle - A Lovely, Livable, Fortress

While Buckingham Palace is designated as the Monarch's official residence, the current Queen, Elizabeth II, usually spends her weekends in Windsor Castle. Built by William the Conqueror (the same guy who built the Tower of London) in 1080, the Castle is the longest-occupied palace in all of Europe whose purpose was to guard the Western approach to London with its strategically important location along the River Thames.

London Paddington Station

* To get to Windsor, one has to take a 30-minute train ride to the county of Berkshire via the London Paddington Station. Thanks to the London Pass, we didn't have to worry about any lines or payment! Paddington is also the line servicing the cities of Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea, Oxford and Worcester, thus making this a very busy place for travelers. 

Windsor Castle

* The Royal County of Berkshire was founded in 840AD and has been a site of many important battles throughout history, most notably those of Alfred the Great's campaign against the Danes. A lot of notable persons also come from Berkshire, among them: the poet, Alexander Pope, the current Prime Minister, David Cameron, the actress, Kate Winslet, the comedian, Ricky Gervais, and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

Windsor Castle Entrance

* For us travelers, the massive King Henry VIII Gate atop Castle Hill serves as the main entrance to Windsor Castle. Somehow I remembered the equally massive Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem upon passing through. These walls were built for seigin'!

Windsor Castle

* When William the Conqueror came to power, he built this Castle to assert and protect Norman dominance in the areas around London. Fortified by a motte-and-bailey, the Castle was also just a day's march (32km) from William's power base in the Tower of London, which meant that both structures could be easily reinforced by the other during times of calamity.

Windsor Castle

* Throughout the centuries, the Castle has been beloved and continuously renovated by numerous English Monarchs to its present form. Such is the affection of the Royal Family for this place, that King George V officially adopted the family name "Windsor", a name that is still used today by the current royal family.

Windsor Castle

Arrow Slits dot the walls protecting the Castle; a reminder of English medieval life when wars could just erupt anytime. For the life of me, I don't know how the archers were able to aim with how narrow the opening was!

Windsor Castle Round Tower

* Central to the Castle is the Round Tower, the original structure built by William the Conqueror. Today, it serves to house the Royal ArchivesPhotographic Collection and the Royal Standard (the Queen's flag).

Windsor Castle

* Look how hard it must have been to invade this place! I felt like an Orc invading Helm's Deep with how formidable this keep looks.

Windsor Castle State Apartments

* Behind the Round Tower are the State Apartments, the living / working / entertaining area of the Castle. That gentleman on horseback is King Charles II, the monarch who restored the Monarchy after Oliver Cromwell tried to end it by establishing the English Commonwealth.

Windsor Castle Waterloo Chamber

* The most famous room in the State Apartments is the Waterloo Chamber, dedicated to the defeat of the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte by the alliance of Tsar Alexander I of Russia, King Frederick William III of Prussia, Emperor Francis I of Austria and King George III of England.

Windsor Castle

* Other sites of interest include: Queen Mary's Dolls' House, known as the largest and most famous collection of dollhouses in the world, offering realistic replicas of furniture, clothes (made by leading Parisian fashion houses: Lanvin, Cartier, Hermes and Vuitton), decors, water pipes (which actually have water running through them) and even wine (with real booze!!) at a tiny scale of 1:12 (the scale of GIJoes); and the Drawing Gallery, which contains a collection of chalk etchings made by the world's masters, including one of Christ by Michelangelo.

St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle

* Finally, no visit to Windsor would be complete without dropping by the magnificent St. George's Chapel. Much like the bigger Westminster Abbey in London, the Chapel is also historically significant due to it being the Mother Church of the Order of the Garter, England's highest order of chivalry and most prestigious honor in England and the UK, as well as the final resting place of ten English monarchs, including the famous / infamous Henry VIII (as depicted in the soap opera TV show, the Tudors)George VI (as depicted in the movie, The King's Speech) and Prince Albert Victor (widely suspected to be, JACK THE RIPPER...).


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