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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.
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Hours Today: 9:30 AM - 6:00 PM
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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1 - 10 of 151 reviews

Reviewed 2 days ago

Incredible building, fortunate to survive WW2 as the church opposite didn't. The final resting place of William the Conqueror (or his thigh bone anyway). The WW2 bullet holes around the windows and in the cloister columns fascinated our children too. Normandy is the land of...More

Thank JW P
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

Difficult to find entrance which appears to be at Hotel de Ville. Here you can buy a ticket to visit the cloisters which are interesting but most areas are reserved for guided tours. The abbey itself is also coloured on the map as guided tours...More

Thank Michael M
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

At the edge of the city centre it is miraculous that this Abby survived the d-day landings. Commissioned by William the Conqueror it is also his resting place. Entry to the Abby itself is free and there are two entrances. You can also pay €4...More

1  Thank Kath M
Reviewed 1 week ago

Stopped for a bit at Caen on our way back to Paris from Mont Saint Michel, to discover lots of things, most beautiful one was the Abbey aux Hommes, which is a very large and impressive building, lovely medieval architecture with a beautiful cloister. We...More

1  Thank travellistics
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

We were here to visit in june 2017. Loved the surroundings, the abbaye and the atmosphere. If you have not too much time and have to decide between the abbaye for the men or the abbeye for the women, choose the abbeye for the men!

Thank Deborah B
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

I visited Abbaye aux Hommes as part of my studies at the University of Caen. This is an interesting site to tour for curious adults, students, or others who love history. The exterior is breathtaking, but the interior is surprisingly bare in some places. The...More

Thank Ann B
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

There are tours if the abbey but not on Saturday. We found a small entrance to the church and checked out the tomb and the decoration around it. We found it Very interesting. Bone relics and great art in the small chapels.

Thank Snowdonia_Holidays
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

If one is not conversant in French, one has to avoid becoming confused. There are “tourist” street signs at various places in Caen. Some read “Hôtel de Ville.” Follow this one to get to the abbey or monastery (interchangeable labels) of Saint Stephen (Etienne). This...More

2  Thank Bob B
Reviewed May 17, 2017

The abbey church is huge, well-maintained, and beautiful. One can wander around the vast space, finding interesting things to see in each corner.More

Thank Hawaii-Biker
Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Responsable relations publiques at Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey), responded to this reviewResponded June 7, 2017
Google Translation

Bonjour Hawaii-Biker, Merci d'avoir pris quelques instants pour commenter votre visite de l'Abbaye-aux-Hommes. Nous sommes ravis de savoir que vous...More

Reviewed May 7, 2017

The abbey itself is free to visit, and contains the tomb of William the Conqueror. It has the same ghostly atmosphere that most really old churches have and seemed to have monks singing piped (at least, I couldn't see any real people doing it!). To...More

Thank Twelvesticks
Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Responsable relations publiques at Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey), responded to this reviewResponded June 7, 2017
Google Translation

Bonjour Twelvesticks, Un grand merci à vous d'avoir pris quelques instants pour rédiger ce commentaire suite à votre visite à...More

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July 6, 2017|
Response from Malillysr | Reviewed this property |
church 9.30am-1pm & 2-7pm Mon-Sat, 2-6.30pm Sun, cloister 8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am-1pm & 2pm-5.30pm Sat & most Sun