Thursday Doors: Caen Chateau

(June 17, 2019)

For Norm’s weekly feature, Thursday Doors, I am splitting our visit to Caen, France into two posts.

We weren’t planning to visit Caen, but ended up spending half a day there because we had to get our rental car exchanged. Actually, Caen is a rather interesting city. After we took care of the rental (we got an upgrade!) we parked in the parking lot of the château.

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The Château, or Caen Castle, resembles a fort more than a castle; however, castles were generally fortified with walls, moats, and drawbridges.

The fortified gateway is the main entrance via bridge over the wide moat.

The castle stood strategically on a rocky outcrop which overlooks the Orne River valley. From here, William would have controlled all accessible routes. Soon it was surrounded by thick stone walls and covered a vast, 5 hectare (12.4 acres) holding. Within its walls was the palace where the duke held court, of which only vestiges remain in a closed-off archeological site.
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The castle, together with two abbeys (the Men’s Abbey and the Women’s Abbey) which William and his wife, Matilde, chose as their resting place, transformed the little town of Caen into the foundation of a dynasty. In addition to St. George’s Church, the Hall of the Exchequer and the keep, (fortified tower), were enhancements built by Henry I, William’s successor.

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Sheep graze in the moat.

 

The fortified gateway is the main entrance via bridge over the wide moat.

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Gateway to the castle

The castle was built around 1060 by William the Conqueror (William of Normandy), who is famous for his successful conquest of England in 1066. His son, Henry I, then built the St. George’s Church, a keep and a large hall for the ducal Court in the year 1123.

The castle stood strategically on a rocky outcrop which overlooks the Orne River valley. From here, William would have controlled all accessible routes. Soon it was surrounded by thick stone walls and covered a vast, 5 hectare (12.4 acres) holding. Within its walls was the palace where the duke held court, of which only vestiges remain in a closed-off archeological site.

DSC00245
The castle, together with two abbeys (the Men’s Abbey and the Women’s Abbey) which William and his wife, Matilde, chose as their resting place, transformed the little town of Caen into the foundation of a dynasty. In addition to St. George’s Church, the Hall of the Exchequer and the keep, (fortified tower), were enhancements built by Henry I, William’s successor.

The 11th century ramparts were originally made of wood but were soon reinforced with stone accumulated while digging out the moat. Caen Castle has over 800 meters (2,625 feet) of ramparts. The fort is one of the largest in Europe.

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I do not know the function of this tiny door found near the top of the stairs that lead up to the ramparts.

Today, within the château’s walls, are modern additions, such as a Museum of Fine Arts (which was closed on Monday, the day we visited), a sculpture garden and an herb garden.
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Main door to Exchequer’s Hall

St. George’s Church

There were many fine views of the city with the spires of the Cathedral and two abbeys towering over the rest of the town.

Closer by, a zoom lens showed doors of buildings below.

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A jogger passes the door to #77 and a wall of graffiti.
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Facade and entrance to a modern synagogue

Some information for this post was obtained from the Wikipedia article Château de Caen.

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