About Caen Castle
The Château de Caen is a Norman built around 1060 by William the Conqueror. His son Henry I then built the Saint George’s church, a keep and a large hall for the ducal Court.
Caen Castle history
The city of Caen was born from the will of William, Duke of Normandy, on the eve of the conquest of England. In Caen, the Duke had two abbeys and his powerful castle built. The castle was built of Caen stone around 1060. It stood first and foremost as a place of power, where the Dukes of Normandy and Kings of England regularly held their major assemblies.
Caen Castle, along with all of Normandy, was recaptured by the French Crown in 1204. Philip II reinforced the fortifications. The castle saw several engagements during the Hundred Years’ War. The keep was pulled down in 1793 during the French Revolution, by order of the National Convention.
The castle was used as a barracks during World War II, was bombed in 1944 and seriously damaged.
Caen Castle today
Today, the castle serves as a museum that houses the Museum of Fine Arts of Caen, the Museum of Normandy and the Exchequer of Normandy.
Visitors pass through the fortified gates and their impressive barbicans, to enter the “enclosure of museums” which includes the Museum of Normandy, Museum of Fine Arts along with space for exhibitions, shows, discoveries and relaxation.
For a general view of this major site of medieval history, climb to the top of the northern rampart, which has been recently restored. The artillery excavation work completed during the restoration enables the visitor to view the archaeological relics.
Getting to Caen Castle
The castle is situated in the heart of town. Caen station is 10 minutes by bus or tram from the castle. There are a variety of bus lines that pass by the castle, the nearby stops are Quatrans and Bellivet. For those driving, nearby car parks include Indigo “Château” underground car park (60, avenue de la Liberation) and “Courtonne” outdoor car park (Quai Vendeuvre). Access by car within the castle grounds is authorised for people with reduced mobility.
As one of the great historic regions of France, Normandy is bursting with a number of stunning castles with equally compelling histories to match. Here's our pick of 10 of the best.