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Caen Sights and Landmarks Guide, France

Throughout history, Caen has been the stage of several events that have left a permanent mark upon France’s eventful history. Apart from a wealth of historical buildings and memorials, the city has a very lively nightlife due to its large student population. Caen is worth seeing as it’s a short day trip from Paris or nearby Le Havre, but this Caen Sights Guide advices you to allot at least a few days if you want to see all the little tidbits that make this city so interesting. Little corners and seemingly decrepit buildings have been lining the streets of Caen since the Middle Ages, but there are equally many places that have witnessed important moments of World War II. Discover this living historical relic at the heart of Normandy.

Caen Sights - Castles and Churches

The most impressive sight in Caen is without a doubt the Chateau de Caen, the medieval fortress built in the 12th century by William the Conqueror. France regards the castle as one of its most important historical monuments since 1866, and for good reason. The fortress played a major part during the Hundred Year’s War, the French Revolution and World War II, and despite being seriously damaged by bombings, it is still a very impressive sight. There are several notable religious buildings in Caen, but perhaps the most emblematic are the Abbaye aux Hommes, or the Abbey for men, and the Abbaye aux Dames (the Abbey for women), founded by William the Conqueror and his cousin Matilda, as a penance for the sin of marrying each other. Saint Etienne le Vieux is a beautiful church, part of the Abbey for Men complex, and it is one of the oldest churches in France, and a fascinating example of Romanic architecture. Saint-Nicolas Church and the adjacent cemetery are beautiful examples of Norman architecture, dating back to 1050.

Caen Sights - Parks, Monuments, Museums

The Caen Botanical garden dates back to the 17th century, and it shelters over 8000 plant species, some of which are very rare. It is open daily, and it is a great place for an after-lunch stroll. If you are interested in contemporary history, you will enjoy the Caen Memorial, a monument and museum dedicated to peace and to the commemoration of the D-Day. For a good look at how the French aristocracy used to live, you should visit Hotel d’Escoville, a historic mansion built in the 16th century. Admission is free, and you can enjoy the exquisite Renaissance interiors and the scenic inner courtyard.

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