Windsor Castle is located in the heart of London , England , and is the official residence of the British royal queen. Home to English royalty for over 900 years, Windsor Castle remains the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world today.
The castle offers several tourist attractions, including Queen Mary's dolls' house, the royal Drawings Gallery, and the fourteenth century St. George's Chapel—the burial place of ten past sovereigns and the destination of many royal weddings.
Windsor Castle was built on a plot of land chosen by William the Conqueror, who thought the location to be prime because it sat high above the river Thames and next to a plentiful Saxon hunting ground. It was a day's march from the Tower of London and could easily defend the capital against any invaders from the west.
The story of Windsor Castle goes back to before the twelfth century, and several monarchs committed themselves to making the castle great. Today, much more than a faded-stone spectacle, the world-renowned Windsor Castle is still bustling with activity both in St. George's Chapel and in the queen's court.
It was not until the mid-1360's that the chapel was constructed on Windsor Castle grounds by King Edward III. The Chapel was completed during the reign of sovereign monarch Henry VIII. It is dedicated to the patron saint of Britain 's highest order of chivalry, the so-called Order of the Garter .
Inside the strong walls of this incredible late-medieval castle lie the remains of ten famous British monarchs, including Henry VIII, Charles I, and King George III.
Windsor Castle was captured in 1642 by English militant Oliver Cromwell following the Battle of Edgehill, who then used the castle as a prison for the duration of the Civil War.
When King Charles I was executed in London in 1648, his body was carried back to Windsor Castle by several weary noblemen during the most treacherous snowstorm London had seen in decades prior. Following the Restoration, his successor, Charles II, wanted to change Windsor Castle back into a place of merriment and beauty. In the 1670's, King Charles called in only the finest artisans and architects to restore Windsor Castle into the stunningly splendid royal residency it is today.
The improvements made during Charles II's great castle restoration project have remained relatively unchanged since the 17 th century, especially in the King's Dining Room and the Queen's Audience Chambers. Many of Windsor Castle 's serene murals, breathtaking ceiling paintings, and divine woodworks are the results of this restorative reign. Charles II is also responsible for chartering the pleasant walking path that stretches across the castle grounds from the southern quadrant of the castle to Windsor Great Park .
In November of 1992, a fire in the private chapel at Windsor Castle spread to over 100 other rooms and damaged or destroyed approximately one-fifth of the Castle area. It took 15 hours to put out the blaze, and the next five years were dedicated to remodeling the castle rooms and restoring the Windsor grounds to their former glory.
Today, Windsor Castle serves as one of the queen's private homes, where she particularly likes to take her weekend getaways. The queen partakes in many traditional formal duties at the castle, including knighting new members into the Knights of the Garter in Windsor's Garter Throne Room, holds honorary lunches for them in the Waterloo Chamber, and hosts occasional ‘dine and sleep' evenings when various public figures and politicians are invited to stay at the castle over Easter holidays.
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