Men’s abbey in Caen housing William the Conqueror’s grave

Caen is the city of William the Conqueror, the most famous of the dukes of Normandy.
After their wedding, William and Mathilda of Flanders were excommunicated because they were cousins (at the sixth degree !) To be forgiven by the pope, William had to build the Abbey of the Men, and Mathilda, the Abbey of the Women, where they were respectively buried.
The duke started the construction of a castle on a rocky outcrop overlooking the city, but it was his son, Henry I Beauclerc who completed it.
The city, built on calcareous soil, got covered with stone quarries from where was extracted the “Caen stone”. Nice creamy-yellow limestone, homogeneous and dense, used for building many monuments in Normandy, but also on the other side of the English Channel, like the Tower of London, when William the Conqueror, became King of England in 1066. This stone exported around the world, was also used for the reconstruction of Caen after the Second World War : strategic objective when the Allies landed on June 6 1944, the city was bombarded during a month before being liberated : 72% of the buildings were in ruins and 2 000 civilians were killed.
Fortunately, the major monuments were spared, as well as a few old streets. The castle and the two Abbeys were well put in value by the very successful reconstruction of the city.
During the visit, you will see William the Conqueror’s grave, in the Abbey of the Men, Norman church with exceptional proportions. Then, you will visit the remnants of the palace of William inside the castle and enjoy the view on the city, and the flamboyant gothic spire of the church St Pierre. Before leaving, you will see the black marble headstone of Queen Mathilda in the beautiful church of the Abbey of Women. You will be surprised by the purity and soberness of Norman architecture.