Performed in front of parliaments, royal palaces, seats of presidents, and other important institutions and buildings all over the world, guard mounting ceremonies (also known as changing of the guard) are some of the most popular and attractive spectacles tourists can enjoy for free. First introduced as early as in the 17th century, these ceremonies are often very elaborate and precisely choreographed, which is why huge crowds of people gather to watch them. Some ceremonies, such as the one held in front of the Buckingham Palace in London, United Kingdom or the one performed in front of the Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, are familiar to most tourists, but in fact, there are many more impressive guard mounting ceremonies in other cities and countries that are definitely worth watching too. If you are a fan of this spectacular display of military drill, you should keep on reading because today’s post will show some of the greatest guard mounting ceremonies from around the world. From Copenhagen and Santiago de Cuba to Moscow and New Delhi, here are 25 Guard Mounting Ceremonies To Make Any Vacation Complete.
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London, United Kingdom
Held in front of Buckingham Palace, the London residence and administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, this guard mounting ceremony is arguably the most famous one. The ceremony also features a military band consisting of 35 musicians accompanied by their Director of Music.
The changing of the guard in Copenhagen takes place at the Amalienborg Palace, the official seat of the Danish royal family. The ceremony can be observed daily every two hours, regardless of weather. There is also a special change at noon.
Changing the guard at the Vatican might not be as famous as some other ceremonies on the list, but it is also a remarkable affair as the local guards (known as the Swiss Guards) are known for their strikingly colorful uniforms. The ceremony takes place in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Soldiers of the Cuban Revolutionary Army guard the Mausoleum of José Marti in Santiago de Cuba. The guard is changed every half-hour and is signaled by clock tower bells similar to how Soviet guards at the Lenin Mausoleum used the bells of the Spasskaya Tower Clock.
One of the world’s most stylized and entertaining guard mounting ceremonies is held in Athens, Greece, where members of the elite Evzones light infantry unit provide a 24-hour honor guard at the Presidential Mansion and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the foot of the Hellenic Parliament.
Arlington, Virginia, USA
The most famous guard mounting ceremony in the US takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. The ceremony is performed by a single member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. There is a meticulous routine which the Tomb Guard follows during a march when watching over the Tomb.
In Stockholm, the changing of the guard ceremony takes place at the Stockholm Palace, the official residence of the King and Queen of Sweden. There are two versions of the guard mounting; one is performed in summer and the other one in winter.
Prague, Czech Republic
Performed at the Prague Castle, the seat of the president of the Czech Republic and one of the most popular tourist attractions of the country, the guard mounting in Prague is usually watched by hundreds of onlookers. In Prague, the guards also provide security service for the Czech president.
Windsor, United Kingdom
Those who find the guard mounting at the Buckingham Palace in London too crowded can visit a similar but less-touristy ceremony held at the Windsor Castle. In summer, when the Queen is in the residence, it usually takes place on the lawn in the Castle’s quadrangle. In wet weather or winter, it occurs outside the Guardroom by the Henry VIII’s Gateway.
In Spain, the guard mounting ceremony occurs at the Royal Palace of Madrid every Wednesday from noon to 2pm (except July, August, and September), weather permitting, as long as it does not coincide with another official event. The unit mounting the guard is provided by the Spanish Royal Guard who come to the place on horse.
Seoul, South Korea
Some Asian countries, such as South Korea, also have their guard mounting ceremonies. In Seoul, the ceremony is held at the Deoksugung and Gyeongbokgung palaces where a re-enactment of a traditional Guard changing ceremony is performed by the Guard Unit of the army. During the ceremony, the guards wear royal uniforms and carry traditional weapons.
Monaco is one of just a few city-states to have an impressive guard mounting. The changing of the guard ceremony takes place in front of the Prince’s Palace daily at exactly 11:55 am, and it is performed by the Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince (Prince’s Company of Carabiniers).
New Delhi, India
In India, the ceremonial changing of the guard is held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Palace, the President of India’s official place of residence. Accompanied by a military band, the ceremony is held every Saturday, at 8 am in summer and at 10 am in winter.
In Oslo, the capital of Norway, His Majesty the King’s Guard keeps The Royal Palace and the Royal Family guarded non-stop 24/7. Every day at 1:30 pm, there is a ceremonial change of the guards outside the palace. It consists of two parts, and it lasts for approximately 40 minutes.
The changing of the guard ceremony conducted in Canada is performed daily during the summer months at the Rideau Hall, Parliament Hill, and the National War Memorial in Ottawa by the combined Ceremonial Unit made up of the two Canadian regiments of Foot Guards.
One of the world’s most famous guard changing ceremonies is the one that is held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow. During the Soviet period, the ceremony was carried out by what was then a KGB guard detachment at the Lenin Mausoleum, but former president Boris Yeltsin relocated the guard to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Changing of the Guards in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, takes place at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which is guarded by the Honor guard of the Ministry of Defense of Vietnam. The mausoleum contains the preserved body of Ho Chi Minh, the former chairman of the local Communist Party who established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945.
In Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, the ceremonial guard mounting takes place in front of the Presidential Palace but only when the president is in the palace. The guards, who wear traditional Slovakian uniforms from the first half of the 19th century, change every hour.
In Singapore, the world’s only island city-state, the guard mounting ceremony is performed at the main entrance of the Istana Palace, the official residence of the President of Singapore. Accompanied by the Singapore Army’s bands, the ceremony is a spectacular show of military drill.
Wagah, India/Pakistan border
Wagah, a piece of land located at the India-Pakistan border, is home to one of the most impressive guard changing ceremonies you can see. During the ceremony, India’s Border Security Force and Pakistan’s Rangers meet at the border in a perfectly choreographed show that attracts huge crowds of spectators on both sides.
Held in front of the Presidential Palace in the heart of Sofia, the guard mounting ceremony in Bulgaria’s capital is an amazing display of skilled salutes, military routines, and a procession that make a visually attractive show. The change occurs every hour and is watched by crowds of tourists.
The most popular guard mounting ceremony in Portugal takes place at the Belém Palace in South-western Lisbon. The ceremony includes a performance by the cavalry musicians who claim to be the only mounted band in the world which performs at the gallop.
The guard mounting ceremony in Bangkok is held in front of the Grand Palace (the official residence of the Thai King), and it’s considered one of the most impressive and spectacular guard changing ceremonies in Asia. Performed by the Thai Royal Guard, the main ceremony takes place at noon.
Alba Iulia, Romania
Romania’s most spectacular guard mounting ceremony does not take place in the capital city of Bucharest but in a little Transylvanian town of Alba Iulia. The ceremony is held at the town’s citadel where the guard is changed on Saturday and Sunday at noon. The guards wear traditional 18th-century uniforms completed with muskets and wigs.
Conducted every odd-numbered day in front of the La Moneda Palace, the official seat of the president of Chile, Santiago’s guard mounting ceremony is a massive and opulent display of military drill. It ends with the army band, drums, and bugles marching off the palace with the old guard.