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Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey)

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Address: Esplanade Jean Marie Louvel | Caen City Hall, 14027 Caen, France
Phone Number: +33 2 31 30 42 81
Website
Thursday
Closed
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Hours:
Fri 08:00 - 17:00
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Description:

The Men's Abbey - An architectural masterpiece of medieval art and 18th...

The Men's Abbey - An architectural masterpiece of medieval art and 18th century

Guided tours or self-guided tours of the monastic buildings (City Hall)

In the 11th century, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, King of England, transformed Caen into one of the most powerful cities of its time, which the Men's Abbey is one of the most striking buildings from this period.

Born in Falaise in 1027, William was the son of Robert

the Magnificent, the future Duke of Normandy, and

Herleva, a tanner’s daughter. Upon his father’s death,

William became the designated sole heir to the ducal

throne. His succession to the throne was challenged

by the barons, who considered William to be Robert’s

illegitimate son. William quashed the rebels once and

for all in 1047 and became the undisputed Duke of

Normandy.

Towards 1050, William married his distant cousin Matilda

of Flanders, despite opposition from Pope Leo IX.

The Church forbade their marriage, so Matilda and

William sought atonement by founding the Abbayeaux-

Dames, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and the

Abbaye-aux-Hommes, dedicated to Saint-Etienne.

Work began on the Abbaye-aux-Hommes in 1066,

the year that marked the Norman conquest of

England.

Edward, the King of England, had named William,

the Duke of Normandy, to be his successor. Upon

Edward’s death and betrayed by Harold, Edward’s

brother-in-law, William took up arms to assert his

claim to the throne. William defeated Harold at the

Battle of Hastings on 14th October 1066. William was

crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey on

25th December 1066, whereupon he became William

«the Conqueror». On 9th September 1087, he died in

Rouen. According to his wishes, he was buried in the

Abbey Church of Saint-Etienne in Caen.

Abbey Church of Saint-Etienne

Consecrated in 1077, the abbey church represents the

oldest part of the site, with most of the features dating

back to the 11th and 13th Centuries. The choir was

redesigned in the 13th Century to reflect the prevailing

Gothic style and is home to the tomb of William the

Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and King of England.

Monastic buildings

The monastery was erected in the 11th Century, but

destroyed during the First War of Religion (1562-63),

before being rebuilt in the 18th Century. The monastic

buildings are built around a Tuscan-style cloister

epitomising the classical Italian style. The buildings

are today headquarters of Caen City Hall.

Together with the recently refurbished Place Saint-

Sauveur, the Abbaye-aux-Hommes represents a

unique heritage site.

Medieval buildings and agricultural

buildings

The abbey also used to be a farm and an inn. It still

houses a cider press, a carriage house and a bakery.

Two 14th Century buildings bear witness to the abbey’s

former role as a place of refuge and a political venue.

- Palais Ducal, which was restored between 2012 and

2013, now hosts the city’s art library and its collection

of contemporary art.

- The Guardroom, where City Council meetings take place.

read more
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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

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Interesting abbey in Caen

Very interesting abbey in the heart of Caen, especially its history during medieval times and during WW2.

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 4 weeks ago
Huy N
,
Brossard, Canada
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429 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 134: English reviews
Brossard, Canada
Level Contributor
36 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Very interesting abbey in the heart of Caen, especially its history during medieval times and during WW2.

Helpful?
Thank Huy N
Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Responsable relations publiques at Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey), responded to this review

Hi Huy N, Thank you for taking a few moments to comment on your visit to the Men's Abbey. We are delighted to know that you enjoyed your visit. We hope your trip in Caen was enjoyable. See you soon at the Abbey More 

Caen, France
Level Contributor
46 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 weeks ago

A beautiful monument either the church or the abbey. William the Conqueror has been buried in the church but only a part of bone remain. Nowadays it's an important place to visit !

Helpful?
Thank Cygne-d-etang
Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Responsable relations publiques at Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey), responded to this review

Hello Cygne-d-etang, Thank you for taking a few moments to comment on your visit to the Men's Abbey. We are delighted to know that you enjoyed your visit of the Saint Stephen Abbey chruch and of the monastic buildings. We hope you envoyed your stay in Caen. See you soon at the Abbey More 

Toulouse, France
Level Contributor
191 reviews
65 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Easy walk from the centre of caen. Just go and see it all, the tomb of William the Conqueror is here, steeped in history, a must see.

Helpful?
Thank TravelTrax1
Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Responsable relations publiques at Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey), responded to this review

Hi TravelTrax1, Thank you for taking a few moments to comment on your visit to the Men's Abbey. We are delighted to know that you enjoyed your visit. We hope your stay in Caen was enjoyable. See you soon at the Abbey More 

Minnesota
Level Contributor
15 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 weeks ago

A must during this 950th anniversary of Williams win in England. Very moving to see. The marker is simple and understated. You may be disappointed if you expect it to be like those at St Dennis in Paris.

Helpful?
Thank RivardNM
Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Responsable relations publiques at Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey), responded to this review

Hello RivardNM, Thank you for taking a few moments to comment on your visit to the Men's Abbey. We are delighted to know that you enjoyed your visit. Admittedly, the architecture may seem very simple, but it fits perfectly Norman style ... Sober and efficient We hope your stay in Caen was enjoyable. See you soon at the Abbey More 

St Helens, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
271 reviews
162 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 264 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 November 2016

Do not expect this to be elaborate and highly enriched......this cathedral was built in a more austere time. What there is however is nevertheless impressive. The shear scale of the building is enough to rival most European Capitals cathedrals. Inside there are some lovely stained glass and also some interesting features like the the ribbed vault, used for the first... More 

Helpful?
Thank Big_Jeff_Leo
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Level Contributor
81 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 October 2016

This church is very basic inside, but I went to see the tomb of William the Conquerer. I was in there alone and I saw the whole church in about 10 min. You can obviously stay longer but other than the grave there is only nice stained glass at the very back of the church.

Helpful?
Thank paulaspassport
Wellington, New Zealand
Level Contributor
196 reviews
107 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 September 2016

The complex is amazing. Standing across the road at Eglise Saint-Etienne le Vieux gives the best view. We did not going into the Abbaye (pay to enter) but did go into the church Église Saint-Étienne (free) where William the Conquerer's tomb is. The tomb is less spectacular that the Queen's at Eglise de la Trinité. Entry to Église Saint-Étienne is... More 

Helpful?
Thank mitsilad
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 September 2016 via mobile

May be a bit jaundiced having seen about 10 cathedrals over the last week, but this large church not very spectacular. Expected a bit more from the the tomb itself. Great organ concert going on however.

Helpful?
Thank Jon C
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
21 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 September 2016

A wonderful vision when one approaches the Abbey from the Place St Sauveur, where one can appreciate its harmonious lines and its many spires. The adjacent convent is now used as the Town Hall and the whole complex, with its extensive flower garden, is quite stunning. For those who appreciate roman architecture, this Abbey is a must.

Helpful?
Thank lauraH6806MQ
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
604 reviews
273 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 196 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 September 2016

We were led around by a member of staff from the tourist bureau who was knowledgeable and informative with excellent English. It makes a marvellous visit with a series of splendid rooms and cloisters with the church as the highlight.

Helpful?
Thank John P

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