Château de Falaise

Falaise, France

Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.

The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.

In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.

A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.



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Founded: 1123
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Peter Noble (4 months ago)
Spent over 2 hours inside. Very interesting experience. Lots of audio visual presentations about the history of William, his forebears and descendants. Free 3D pad which shows how various rooms would have looked at the time. The castle has been "renovated " in a modern but sensible manner, it was badly damaged over time and during the last war. Free to walk around the green areas outside where there are 3D binoculars showing what the areas looked like. Overall, it was a great experience. Not suitable for the physically challenged as there are lots of steps in the towers. Well worth the effort and time.
Bill Pentland (4 months ago)
Absolutely amazing! Was not on our itinerary but as we were in the neighborhood, we stopped and I am very thankful we did. Tremendous exhibit cleverly presented. Educational and inspiring. Every effort to bring the past alive has been made.
Walter Liu (5 months ago)
Giant castle, remarkably well preserved and with no shortage of interesting exhibits to keep everyone busy. Even a rushed tour would take an hour, but ideally you’d want to spend 2-3 hours here. Great views of Falaise also from the castle towers!
Tom (Bozz) (5 months ago)
Birthplace of William the Conquerer, the castle offers commanding views of the surrounding area (unsurprisingly). After major refurbishment, the museum housed in the keeps offers much to see. You can use the digital pad to view how it looked, which would be ideal to keep young ones engaged. Plenty of steps in the keep mind you, as one would expect. You can visit the courtyard (inner walls) without a ticket.
Benjamin Moye (5 months ago)
Best castle I've ever been to!! The castle looks incredible, it's in really good condition and is in an imposing location. The display boards and interactive tour using augmented reality via tablets (which including a little treasure hunt) were absolutely brilliant, an engaging way to learn the history of the castle. I hope other castles can follow a similar approach. I cannot recommend this castle enough it's a must visit!
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