Caen – Some Of The Churches
Caen is also known as the “city of 100 church bells” and as the name says, there are a lot of churches, abbeys and monasteries in this former royal city. William the Conqueror, who lived and reigned here, had several built (and the enormous fortress/castle).
Before WWII there were some 40 churches in the city, but unfortunately during the last part of the Second World War, 80% of Caen got bombed out of existence, and therefore many churches were destroyed. But there are still some left (some 28) over that are interesting to see. Here are the main ones:
The foundations of this church goes back to the 7th century, but the church was badly damaged during the 100 year war, so the current church’s construction started in the 15th century. It was again badly damaged during the 2nd World War, but the reconstruction rendered it like it was before.
The top photo is that of the Saint-Jean church as well.
Like most of the monuments of Caen, pollution can be seen everywhere. Soot, grime and green mold are visible everywhere.
The Saint-Saveur (Saveur means saviour in French) was built in the 14th century, but the initial foundation was laid back in the 7th century.
The church used to be surrounded by houses, but after the bombings in WWII (the church escaped miraculously unscathed) the houses were destroyed. During the reconstruction of Caen, the houses were never rebuilt and a square was created to show the church in a proper light.
Prior to that, in 1775 part of the church was destroyed due to an earthquake.
The inside of the church is quite austere (like most other churches in Caen), most of it a result of the looting during the French Revolution.
There is one stairway that is “mysterious”, since the archeologists do not know or understand the function and objective of the stairs.
The Saint-Pierre church in Caen is probably one of the more visible churches in the city, and constitutes the main church. Many people think this is a cathedral, but it’s not. The current church dates back to the 14th century but the church was mentioned as far back as the 10th century.
The church itself is located right in front of the fortress/castle of Caen. The bells are considered the “king of bells of Normandy” and have been a model for many other churches and monuments.
Parts of the church were destroyed during the bombings towards the end of WWII, but everything has been restored. Unfortunately, pollution is visible everywhere.
The inside of the church are grandiose and in good nick. This church was (and still is) used for all official religious ceremonies.
The organ is remote controlled and was installed in 1997 as replacement of the organ destroyed during the Second World War.
Abbaye aux Hommes – Men’s Abbey
In the 11th century, William the Conqueror ordered three massive building projects; the castle/fortress and two abbeys; one for men, the other for women. Part of the Benedictine’s Men’s Abbey later became a school and today it’s the City Hall of Caen (in French “Mairie”).
The City Hall fulfils all the traditional roles of a City Hall, including weddings. Above is the wedding room, one of the former refectories of the Benedictine abbey. William the Conqueror had the two Abbeys built to get back in favour with the Pope (he was out of favour because he married his cousin against the wishes of the Pope). William the Conqueror is buried in the Men’s Abbey, while his wife is buried in the women’s Abbey.
Inside the Abbey portion, now the City Hall, you will find a beautiful and tranquil courtyard with a small garden. Its very peaceful and quite, no traffic noise reaches the area.
Alongside the courtyard are the arched walkways used to reach all rooms in the Abbey now City Hall.
Ruins of St. Etienne-Le-Vieux church
Opposite of the imposing Men’s Abbey and City Hall is the Saint Etienne-Le-Vieux church, or at least the ruins of the church. The church was built in the 15th century on a foundation dating back to the 10th century.
During the 100 year war (in 1417) it was badly destroyed, rebuilt but during the English bombardment of Caen towards the end of WWII it was badly damaged and never rebuilt. Now it is no longer used.
There are many other churches that can be viewed in Caen, and of course the Female Abbey not to far from the Men’s one. All the churches that are not in ruins can be viewed, but as I stated above, the pollution has marred the picture. Pity.
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