Caen Things to Do

  • Men's Abbey + Church
    Men's Abbey + Church
    by darkjedi
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    Caen castle
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  • Caen castle.
    Caen castle.
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Most Recent Things to Do in Caen

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    Sword Beach

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Sword Beach

    Sword is the easternmost of the five D-Day landing beaches. It was attacked by the British 2nd Army along with paratroopers & glider troops from the British 6th Airborne Division who landed earlier in the morning. Allied casualties here were very light, suffering only 600 dead, wounded, or missing after landing 29,000 soldiers on the beach. By the end of the day, all major objectives of Sword were accomplished except the planned linkup with the Canadians at Juno to the west.

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    A tribute to the peace : the Memorial of Caen

    by floche2001 Written Nov 3, 2008

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    The main entrance
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    Caen was iat the crossing roads to develop the battle of Normandy. But it's not just a tribute to the martyr of US, Canadians, or British troops.

    The approach is here really different. It starts with the first WW to explain that it already containts the roots of the second WW. A lot of pictures, but few real objects. Anyway, it dosent stop with June 6th, but excplains the history of the modern times from the cold war, the fall of the wall in berlin to the terrorists attacks in N-York

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    Tomb Of William The Conqueror

    by darkjedi Updated Apr 14, 2008

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    The Tomb

    The tomb of William the Conqueror of 1066 fame is located in the Abbeye aux Hommes. William the Conqueror died early on the morning of September 9, 1087 in Rouen. Gesta Regum Anglorum states that William, his stomach protruding over the forward part of his saddle, was injured when he was thrown against the pommel and his internal organs ruptured. He was fifty-nine years old and had ruled England for twenty-one years and Normandy for thirty-one more. In accordance with his wishes, he was buried in Saint-Etienne Abbey Church in the Abbaye-aux-Hommes.

    Then something macabre happened. The monk of Caen writes that William was "great in body and strong, tall in stature but not ungainly." When it came time to bury the heavy body, it was discovered that the stone sarcophagus had been made too short. There was an attempt to force the corpse and, says Orderic, "the swollen bowels burst, and an intolerable stench assailed the nostrils of the by-standers and the whole crowd." Even the frankincense and spices of the censers was not enough to mask the smell, and the rites were hurriedly concluded.

    William Rufus commissioned a memorial for his father, "a noble tomb, which to this day shines with gold and silver and precious stones in handsome style" with an inscription in gold. This memorial was to survive until 1522, when William's body was examined and reinterred. Forty years later, it was destroyed by a Calvinist mob and the remains scattered. Only a single thigh bone survived, which was preserved and reburied under a new monument in 1642. But even this was destroyed during the French Revolution.

    Now only a simple stone slab marks the burial place of William the Conqueror. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle provides his epitaph.

    "He who was earlier a powerful king, and lord of many a land, he had nothing of any land but a seven-foot measure; and he who was at times clothed with gold and with jewels, he lay then covered over with earth."

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    The Castle: Lifts

    by darkjedi Written Apr 14, 2008

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    In some parts of the castle complex lifts have been installed to grand access to the higher levels and walkways for the disabled and wheelchairs. They have glass walls to you can see the earthworks as the lifts ascends and decends.

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    Leroy Tower

    by darkjedi Written Apr 14, 2008

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    The Tower of Leroy was restored at the beginning of the 20th century. It is the only high tower remaining in the city. It formed part of the ramparts surrounding the Bourg-le-Roi (an area just south of the castle walls) and the castle. This relic marked the entrance to the town by river. Although nearly ten miles inland, Caen is a seaport. It was first an estuary port then later a canal was constructed.

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    Maisons des Quatrans

    by darkjedi Written Apr 14, 2008

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    Spared during the bombing raids of 1944, this house bears the name of Quatrans family who were lawyers in royal service in Caen at the end of the 14th Century.

    Thomas Quatrans, who fled before the English, on their seizing of the town in 1417, had his house confiscated ; it was given to an English knight and later rebuilt in the second half of the 15th Century.

    As often in Caen, only the façade is built in timber, with little carved decoration, but it allows a large number of windows looking out onto the street.
    The room that crowned the octogonal staircase at the back of the house was destroyed during the 1944 bombing.

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    The Castle: Normandy Museum

    by darkjedi Written Apr 14, 2008

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    Governor's Lodge
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    The Musée de Normandie has been in the medieval castle precinct since 1963. It is located in the Governors' Lodge, which was the residence of the bailiff in the 14th Century, then the headquarters of the Captain of Caen and eventually became the residence of the Governor in charge of "the Castle and the City of Caen". The Governors' Lodge was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

    With the support of outstanding collections, the Musée de Normandie recounts the stages of the historical evolution of Normandy. Periodically integrating the earliest archeological finds into the visit, the museum presents a panorama of men and women's lives since the remote paleolithic to the settlement of the Vikings in the lower Seine valley (10th Century).

    Weapons, jewels, everyday utensils, any piece of history revealed by excavations are exhibited in rooms devoted to archeology and illustrated by maps, scale models and historical information so as to guide visitors through some long and badly known periods.

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    The Castle: The Exchequer

    by darkjedi Written Apr 14, 2008

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    The work of Henry I,William the Conqueror’s son, this great banqueting hall (aula) was kwown as the “Hall of the Exchequer” from the 19th Century onwards.

    Rectangular in shape (31x11m), it was built with two floors and was typical of 12th Century palace architecture. Very few examples survive and the palace here in Caen castle is the oldest and best preserved in continental Europe.

    The ground within the walls has been thoroughly investigated by archaeologists, but the Anglo-Norman levels (11th and 12th Centuries) were only partially preserved.The archaeological work did, however, reveal that the ground floor had been used as a kitchen, while the floor above had served as a banqueting hall where the duke-king was able to receive his barons and the great and good of that time.

    Richard the Lionheart, King of England and Duke of Normandy assembled his barons here before embarking on Crusade.

    At the beginning of the 14th Century, the building was transformed into a room with a single floor, much preferred by princes then. It lost its noble function at the end of the 15th Century and became a stable for the garrisons and a forge. Badly damaged in 1944, the restoration work has integrated the resulting archaeological investigations.

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    The Castle: St George's Church

    by darkjedi Written Apr 14, 2008

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    No trace remains of the original church, founded probably in the 10th Century, nor of the Romanesque church which succeeded it in about 1100, only the nave walls survive. Major rebuilding and modification between the end of the Hundred Year’s War (1450) and the beginning of the 16th Century has given the church its present appearance. The main entrance set in the West gable wall destroyed in 1944 and was not replaced in the latest restoration.

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    Le Château Ducal

    by darkjedi Written Apr 14, 2008

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    St. Peter's gate
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    Built in around 1060 to house Duke William’s residential palace, the Château of Caen remains one of the largest fortified enclosures in Europe.

    It is behind these walls that William, surrounded by his barons, prepared to expel the traitor Harold from England. His conquest at Hastings in 1066 would give the future King of England the nickname “the Conqueror”. The Exchequer Room bears the memory of feasts organised by the Duke Kings, descendants of William through to Richard the Lionheart.

    However, through the centuries, the Château would gradually be swallowed up by the city, stifled by houses and forgotten by Caen inhabitants until the bombings in 1944...
    In the heart of a destroyed quarter, the old medieval enclosure seemed to have sprung up from nowhere.

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    Abbaye-aux-Dames

    by darkjedi Written Apr 14, 2008

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    Founded by Matilda around 1060 and magnificently restored today, the Ladies’ Abbey includes both the abbey church dedicated to the Trinity and monastery buildings.

    The abbey church of Saint Trinity is a masterpiece of Norman Romanesque architecture whose understated décor leaves an impression. Blending simplicity and light, this church contains the tomb of Queen Matilda as well as a superb crypt.

    The 18th century monastery buildings were occupied by Benedictine nuns until the Revolution. Turned into a hospital and then a hospice, they are now home to the Lower Normandy Regional Council offices.

    Free tours daily at 2.30 p.m and 4.00 p.m
    Closed : 1st January, 1st May, 11th November and 25th December.

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    Abbaye-aux-Hommes

    by darkjedi Written Apr 14, 2008

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    Men's Abbey + Church
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    Built in 1063 by William the Conqueror, the Men’s Abbey contains the abbey church of Saint-Etienne as well as the monastery buildings which today house Caen City Hall.
    On entering the abbey church of Saint Etienne, visitors will be fascinated by the harmony of this Romanesque and Gothic architectural gem. In the heart of the church, you can contemplate the tomb of William, its founder.

    Restored in the 18th century, the monastery buildings display superb pale oak-panelled rooms that are decorated with 17th, 18th and 19th century paintings. A cloister, pressing room, refectory, scriptorium, and escalier des matines (stairway leading from the dormitories to the church), all still tell of the monks’ activities today.

    You may visit the Abbey at your leisure (except during services) daily,
    from 8.30am to 12.30pm and from 1.30pm (2.30pm on Sundays and public holidays) to 7.30pm

    Guided tours daily at 9.30am, 11am, 2.30pm and 4pm (except on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and 1st May)
    The 11am tour includes the monastery buildings, the press house and the Guard’s Room (14th century)
    The other tours include the monastery buildings and the abbey church
    Rates : adults €2.20, students and over 60s €1.10, free for under 18s and on Sundays

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    Mémorial de Caen

    by ATLC Updated Mar 14, 2008

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    Peace Memorial museum Caen

    If you are visiting the D-Day beaches in Normandy, I strongly suggest you visit this museum first. Only then will you truly know what you are looking at, when visiting the beaches.

    I came out teary eyed, from that museum. And when seeing the beaches afterwards, in all honesty they are simply beaches... it makes it all so vivid what happened there many years ago.

    The museum takes you through the darkest times of WWII, then literally leads you up to the light, the here and now, out of that horror.

    The Caen Memorial was born out of the desire to create a place for reflecting on wars on the basis of the experience of the memorable events that took place in Caen and the region during the summer of 1944. (text from website)
    This is the most impressive, emotionally charged museum I have ever visited.

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    Saint-Étienne

    by Mikebond Updated Jan 5, 2008

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    Saint-Etienne from afar
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    The church of Saint-Étienne needed only 15 years to be built and underwent few transformation: this make it one of the highest examples of Romanesque architecture in Normandie. William the Conqueror founded it in 1063 (then he wanted to be buried there) and the church was finished in 1077. It gave shelter to the people of Caen in 1944 during the bombing that damaged only the towers.
    The 11th-century façade is not decorated, according to the features of the Romanesque style, while the two bell towers have Gothic steeples. Observe the beautiful apse before entering the church.

    The interior of the church is majestic. Worth remarking are the wide Romanesque arches, the matroneum at the base of the windows and the Gothic choir. In front of the high altar (dating of 1771), you can see a modern epitaph that reminds of William the Conqueror's tomb, destroyed during the religion wars and the Revolution.

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    Saint-Étienne-le-Vieux

    by Mikebond Updated Jan 4, 2008

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    Saint-Etienne-le-Vieux

    Saint-Étienne-le-Vieux was erected between the 13th and the 16th centuries and lasted for a long time until the bombs of World War II destroyed it. This photo shows what is left today of that wonderful church. However, don't miss the inside, that has been restorated and has a lot to offer.
    The nave itself announces you that you are in a Gothic church. You can understand that from the high and large windows that let the Divine Light fall upon the believers, as well as from the cross vaults that have replaced the Romanesque barrel vaults.
    As for the tomb portrayed in the last pictures, I don't know who it belongs to. Maybe our Norman or French friends could help!

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