The Church of St. Nicholas was first mentioned in 1220 and was expanded over time in the 14th century before taking its final shape in the year 1465. The architectural style is mainly Gothic.
The church consists of three naves. It has well-preserved stain glass windows, and a large rose window over a pointed arched portal, a number of wooden sculptures of saints and paintings that date from different periods. Of particular importance is the large altar and pulpit.
Outside is a tall clock tower with a sundial. Old tombstones line the walls and various paintings from the life of Jesus Christ.
Behind the church is St. Barbara's Chapel. The layout of the chapel is octagonal. It was built by the architect Hans von Burghausen in 1450, who also designed the Hospital Church. The basement served as the ossuary while the main floor was used for religious ceremonies and prayers. It features a number of wooden pews and a wooden Gothic altar, flanked by two altars from the Baroque period. Outside the entrance has a painting depicting Saint Christopher.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).