Château de Caen

Caen, France

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.



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Rue de Geôle 35, Caen, France
See all sites in Caen


Founded: c. 1060
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)


4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tiffany Marie (37 days ago)
Stopped by here in Caen because of its history with William the Conqueror. It was under restoration while we were there so not everything was open however I can't wait to see what it'll look like when finished.
Emilia Stammler (41 days ago)
Caen Castle is an absolute must-visit for anyone exploring this historic city. From the moment you catch sight of its formidable stone walls, you know you're in for something special. Inside, you'll discover the Caen art museum and history museum. Don’t miss the incredible views from the ramparts. It is right in the heart of the city, making it a convenient stop on any Caen itinerary. There is a restaurant / cafe inside the castle walls, but it was closed when we were there. There are a lot of renovations going on, which makes it a bit difficult to explore at the moment.
Lucy NNN (2 months ago)
If you are like us don’t have many days to spend in Normandy, spare this visit for another location instead. This is like walking through a building site. You are trying to tell yourself that the site is 1000 years old, but nothing can help to really believe it. The castle looks better from outside then inside. Museum was good to visit. But some signs there were not translated to English. Everyone under 26 was free.
Kate Leahy (3 months ago)
Undergoing refurbishment at present March 2024 so unable to see it at it's best. View from ramparts was wonderful
B Fisher (13 months ago)
Great ancient castle walls and facility. It is a current excavation site with restoration work, so it looks like construction but it is also preservation and still learning about the site. There is a very detailed exhibit in one of the large halls showing their findings and what they are planning on doing. There are a couple great museums on site, bathrooms/toilets and a place to grab some food and drinks. The views are fun and can see the city from the ramparts or overlook the castle remains with an easy climb. Strongly recommend if in the area. Wasn't too busy.
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