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England’s Warwick Castle (2:17)

Warwick, England

One of England’s top castle experiences, Warwick celebrates its thousand-year history with fanciful ramparts, towers, and Romantic (19th-century) palace staterooms peopled with wax figures. And outside the walls, the dreaded catapult is winding up and ready to attack.

Complete Video Script

Warwick Castle has been turned into a virtual theme park. It's a hit with families — and, from dungeon to lookout, the enterprising Earl of Warwick is wringing maximum tourist dollars out of his castle.

Along with all the entertainment, there are centuries of history. The man-made defensive mound is where the original Norman castle was built in 1068. Back then, a wooden stockade defined the courtyard in the way the stony walls do now.

You can climb the towers and ramble the ramparts. Today's castle is a 15th-century fortified shell, surrounding a 19th-century noble residence.

Inside, the cavernous Great Hall is decorated with 16th-century weaponry and dazzling armor. Imagine, five hundred years ago, the pageantry of a jousting tournament.

The elegant staterooms are brought to life by wax figures. We've dropped in on a royal weekend gala — and we're going to party like it's 1898: The Countess of Warwick — considered the most beautiful woman in Victorian England — greets her guests. The latest hits are played live (there's no other way). And big-name aristocrats have dropped in, including a young Winston Churchill.

The castle works to bring the Middle Ages back to life. Out at the moat, an archer shows off his mastery of the all-important longbow.

And, down by the river, families gather for a demonstration of a catapult-like weapon called a "trebuchet," built from 13th-century drawings. The crew powers the treadmill, which raises the six-ton counterweight. When triggered, this hurls a boulder 200 yards. Eight hundred years ago, if this machine rolled up to your castle…it was a very bad day.