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“Day Trip” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey)

Abbaye aux Hommes (Men's Abbey)
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Private Tour: Rouen, Bayeux and Falaise Day Trip from Caen
Ranked #3 of 45 things to do in Caen
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: 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.
Loughborough, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
31 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Day Trip”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 1, 2013

Was very impressed with this abbey, the windows are spectacular. Unfortunately we were unable to take a guided tour due to other commitments.

Visited May 2013
Thank Cath50_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Moreno Valley, California
Level Contributor
31 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“excellent tour guides!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 29, 2013

I have visited the Abbaye aux Hommes and City Hall of Caen six times in the past 9 years, each time with a group of high school students. The tour is amazing each time. The students love the inner court yard with its perfectly kept garden. We have had English speaking tour guides who were excellent. This year, we had a French speaking tour guide, who truly tailored her stories and historical anecdotes to her teenage audience. She told the students the story of the botched funeral of William the Conqueror. His body exploded at the funral service and people fled the church because of the smell. I always ask the tour guide to show the high-school students a French civil wedding ceremony in the beautiful wedding chamber at City Hall. And she told the students that the boys who ate at the réfecctoire whent City Hall was still the Lycée Malherbe, used to make balls out of bread and shoot them at the paintings hanging on the walls. The goal was to get as many breadballs on the face of Jesus on the paintings.

Visited April 2013
1 Thank Frauke Elisabet... R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Australia
Level Contributor
618 reviews
354 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 249 helpful votes
“A grand building with a disappointing interior”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 5, 2013

The Abbey is quite magnificent from outside, but there is very little to see inside. The building is now home to Caen city hall, so most is now taken up with offices. The adjacent Abbey Church of St. Stephen, with the tomb of William the Conqueror, is worth a visit.

Visited May 2013
1 Thank Valerie037
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stanwell, null, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“great freebie”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2013

We went to Caen as a day trip and although small the sights are packed in! This one was the gem, the final resting place of William the conqueror. We got to stroll around this beautiful atmospheric abbey free of any annoying tour guides or any other nonsense. Absolutely stunning inside and out. Well worth a visit. P.s. tour guides are available at set times.

Visited April 2013
1 Thank Joe T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
181 reviews
92 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 95 helpful votes
“Founded by William the Conqueror”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 27, 2013

We were there on a rainy Saturday very early and were the only ones about. It's dark and there is not much in the way of signage or info (in English or any other language), so read up first or take your guidebook. Lovely Romanesque architecture within a very simple and pure form as the French built it. There are few decorations inside in keeping with the simple clean style of Romanesque. Though it is worth a walk around and there are some paintings and metalwork. This is an important church as the first abbot here was Archbishop Lanfranc who William the Conqueror later appointed as his Archbishop of Canterbury, in England. It can be a quick visit (30minute), but is worth the stop!

Visited October 2012
Thank PBTravelstheWorld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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