Caen Castle, locally known as Château de Caen, lies in the center of the city of Caen in the Calvados department in the Normandy region in France.
Caen Castle was first built around 1060 by William the Conqueror on a hillock next to the town of Caen. It was equipped with two entrance gates; the Town Gate and the Land Gate, both with barbicans. With an area of 5.5 hectares, it is one of the larger castles in Western Europe. William's son, Henry I, built the Saint Georges Church, a large hall for the Duke Court and, in 1123, a large rectangular keep. This keep was equipped with a dry moat, just as the castle itself.
On Christmas 1182, a royal court celebration for Christmas in the Aula of Caen Castle brought together Henry II and his sons, Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland, receiving more than a 1000 knights. In 1204 the castle, along with all of Normandy, was handed over to the French Crown. Philip II then reinforced the fortifications. The castle saw several engagements during the 100-Years War (1346, 1417, 1450).
In 1793, during the French Revolution, the keep was pulled down, by order of the National Convention. The castle, which was used as a barracks by the Germans during World War II, was bombed in 1944 and seriously damaged.
At present the restored ramparts of the castle are a great view. But when I visited the freely accessible castle on a rainy afternoon, I was a little disappointed by its interior; there was the Saint Georges Church and the large hall, called the Exchequer of Normandy which are used for temporary exhibitions but both were closed. There is also a fine arts museum, which was a bit too contrasting with the medieval walls for my liking. Also the moated foundations of the razed keep were not accessible. But nevertheless, this is one to visit.