The United Kingdom's Most Impressive Royal Castles
No trip to England is complete without sightseeing a few castles. Imagine any event from English history and chances are there is a castle in the background. Whether your visit is spurred by an interest in history, royalty, architecture or landscape, there is something about castles to indulge every tourist. Be sure to include some of these most impressive royal castles in your travel plans.
Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England
As the largest occupied castle in Europe and the present-day residence of Queen Elizabeth, Windsor Palace allows visitors to experience the best of British tradition. The castle was built by William the Conqueror over nine hundred years ago. With massive stone walls and rounded turrets, the palace is an excellent example of a fortress castle.
Start your visit by watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony. In an elaborate display of pageantry, the guards change their shift in step with orchestrated music while wearing their bright red tunics and tall fur hats. Bring your camera for this great photo opportunity. The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place from eleven o'clock daily in fair weather months and on alternate days from October to March.
Inside the palace, the public are invited to visit the State Apartments and view the lavish furnishings and décor of past kings and queens. The Royal Art Collection is also on display to the public and includes paintings by Gainsborough, Rembrandt and Rubens. Ceramic, armour and illustrated books are also on exhibit at Windsor Palace.
Tours are given of the palace kitchen, a large kitchen that has been in continuous operation for over seven hundred and fifty years. The kitchen features cookware and serving dishes that have been in use at state banquets for centuries.
Leeds Castle in Kent, England
Known as the most beautiful castle in England, Leeds Castle sits on a series of islands in a lake formed by the river Len. With a history dating back to the twelfth century, Leeds has been turned into a modern-day family tourist attraction. Visitors can view the castle from the water as they are moved about the park by ferry.
Walking through the beautiful English gardens, guests can watch displays of falconry and feed wildlife at the water's edge. Inside the castle, there are shops and restaurants to peruse and even a whimsical museum of dog collars.
Children will enjoy playing on the castle-themed Knight's Realm Playground, running through a medieval hedge maze and swinging through the trees like Tarzan on the Go Ape Tree Top Adventure Park.
Tower of London
Tower of London in London, England
There is perhaps no other building in England so steeped in history as the infamous Tower of London. Fully uniformed beefeaters entertain visitors with expertly told stories of the royal prisoners and executions at the palace. Visitors can see the apartments where Ann Boleyn spent her last days, the dungeon where Thomas More was imprisoned and the knoll where the executions occurred.
The Tower is a fortress, originally built to defend royalty from attack and still serves that purpose by protecting the Crown Jewels. Visitors are able to view this incredible collection of gems and crowns, including the Coronation Crown. Many of the largest and most beautiful gemstones in the world are housed in the collection.
Five hundred years of royal armour is also on display in the castle. Fans of medieval history will delight in viewing the armour designed uniquely for each king.
Arundel Castle in West Sussex, England
A restored medieval castle that dates back to the time of William the Conqueror; Arundel is impressive for its size and beautiful architecture. The castle is built on forty acres with a series of walls, towers and turrets that elegantly connect across the hilly landscape. The castle façade is enhanced by a series of pointed arch windows that beautify the interiors and give the entire castle a fairy tale appearance.
Visitors can view the magnificent room settings, along with exquisite displays of armour, stained glass and fine art. Those able to climb the one hundred thirty-one stairs of the castle keep are rewarded with a stunning view of the river valley and town below.