The Norman Château de Caen was built in c. 1060 by William the Conqueror, who successfully conquered England in 1066. His son Henry I then built the Saint Georges church, a keep (1123) and a large hall for the Duke Court. At Christmas 1182, a royal court celebration for Christmas in the aula of Caen Castle brought together Henry II and his sons, Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland, receiving more than a thousand knights. Caen Castle, along with all of Normandy, was handed over to the French Crown in 1204. Philip II reinforced the fortifications.The castle saw several engagements during the Hundred Years' War (1346, 1417, 1450).
The keep was pulled down in 1793 during the French Revolution, by order of the National Convention.The castle, which was used as a barracks during World War II, was bombed in 1944 and seriously damaged.In 1946, Michel de Boüard, an archeologist from Caen decided to start excavations in the area of the castle to bring to the light medieval traces. The musée des Beaux-Arts, which was installed in 1967, opened in 1971.
The castle was constructed on a hillock and is now in the middle of the city. With an area of 5.5 hectares, it is one of the largest castles in Western Europe. It remained an essential feature of Norman strategy and policy.
Today, the castle serves as a museum that houses the Museum of Fine Arts of Caen, Museum of Normandy along with many periodical exhibitions about arts and history, Saint Georges church and the Exchequer of Normandy, used as a temporary hall of exhibitions, which seated the Court of Normandy.
There is also a garden showing plants cultivated in the middle-ages. The keep, now razed, had a large square section with round towers at each corner. As the castle, it was also surrounded by a moat. The top of the ramparts offers a splendid view of Caen. Some parts of the curtain walls were built during the 12th century, most of them date from the 15th century.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.