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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
09:30 - 18:00
Closed now
See all hours
Mon - Thu 08:00 - 18:00
Fri 08:00 - 17:00
Sat - Sun 09:30 - 18:00
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours

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


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


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


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
Book In Advance
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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 450 reviews
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A jewel of a church

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... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed 19 September 2016
London, United Kingdom
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450 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 137: English reviews
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
22 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 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.

Thank lauraH6806MQ
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
683 reviews
317 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 211 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.

Thank John P
Bedford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
28 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 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 place for yourself, and there is a parking nearby that has 30min free which to... More 

Thank Leoserodio
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
57 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 September 2016

This is a real landmark of medieval church architecture. Associated with and burial place of William the Conqueror, it is also one of the first uses of ribbed vaults, which would come to be one of the key characteristics of later Gothic architecture (this is transitional Romanesque/Gothic). The interior is relatively simple, apart from a few quirky column capitals with... More 

Thank Kowloonie
Минск, Беларусь
Level Contributor
12 reviews
7 attraction reviews
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 August 2016 via mobile

Gothic church, nithing unusual. To see some rooms of the abbey you need to buy a ticket, but the most interesting part is not available for tourusts.

Thank Dasha P
Level Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 August 2016

The Abbaye aux Hommes is beautiful, the cloisters are tranquil and we were lucky enough to catch the exhibition of Tony Vaccaros photographs. Recommend a visit.

Thank Denise W
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
82 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 August 2016 via mobile

Surprised to find the tomb of William the conqueror by the High Altar. A magnificent building. Good that it is still in use as a place of worship.

Thank Bob S
Skerries, Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
19 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 July 2016

I loved the church built, like most of Caen, from butter yellow Caen stone, and the way it is squeezed in between all the other buildings around the square. I visited with an amateur architectural historian who made the visit extra special - if you don't have access to one it might be a good idea to pay for a... More 

1 Thank Oona R
Sutton Coldfield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
70 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 July 2016

A very imposing ancient Abbey containing an impressive altar and beautiful stained glass windows. William the Conqueror is buried here. Well worth a visit.

Thank Gill B
Caen, France
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 July 2016

Despite the severe bomobing inflicted on Caen during the 1944 Normandy landings some splendid buildings have survived; this is one of them; it is Willliam the Conqueror's church and abbey. The female equivalent is the Abbaye aux dames. Well worth visiting. There are often guides who are ready to tell you about the place. They are local volunteers who are... More 

Thank Catherine V

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