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Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey)

Esplanade Jean Marie Louvel | Caen City Hall, 14027 Caen, France
+33 2 31 30 42 81
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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.
  • Excellent49%
  • Very good37%
  • Average12%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“city hall” (10 reviews)
“guided tour” (11 reviews)
“red door” (3 reviews)
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Hours Today: 08:00 - 18:00
Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours
Esplanade Jean Marie Louvel | Caen City Hall, 14027 Caen, France
+33 2 31 30 42 81
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11 - 20 of 487 reviews

Reviewed 6 November 2016

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.

1  Thank TravelTrax1
Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Responsable relations publiques at Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey), responded to this reviewResponded 5 December 2016

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

Reviewed 6 November 2016

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.More

Thank RivardNM
Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Responsable relations publiques at Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey), responded to this reviewResponded 5 December 2016

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...More

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...More

3  Thank Big_Jeff_Leo
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...More

2  Thank paulaspassport
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...More

2  Thank mitsilad
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.

Thank Jon C
Reviewed 24 September 2016

Visited this church for its connection with St Albans. Huge construction, always wondering how the builders were able to build such monuments. Worth the trip but do go on the afternoon when guides are available. If not we found excellent booklets describing the history and...More

Thank jean p
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...More

Thank lauraH6806MQ
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.

Thank John P
Reviewed 9 September 2016

There are guided tours for both the Abbaye-aux-Hommes and Abbaye aux Dammes, but they are available only at 2pm, and 4:30pm, so it didn't work for us, the good thing is that if you go there in the morning you will probably have the whole...More

Thank Leoserodio
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