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Abbaye aux Dames, Caen

Photo © Google. View all images in our Abbaye aux Dames Photo Gallery.
Photo © Tango7174.
Carte postale Photo © [le]doo (francis).
Photo © Pascal Radigue.
Photo © Parapluie.
Interior view of the church, looking west. Photo © b.roveran.
Collection: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library… Photo © Cornell University Library.
Photo © Karldupart.

The Abbaye-aux-Dames (Ladies' Abbey) in Caen was founded by Queen Mathilda, the wife of William the Conqueror, in 1062.


William the Conqueror and his wife Matilda founded two abbeys in Caen, one for men and one for women, in expiation of their uncanonical marriage (they were cousins). Matilda's abbey, the Abbey-aux-Dames, was founded in 1062 and dedicated in 1066, the year her husband conquered England. The queen was buried in the choir in 1083.

The original spires of the abbey church were destroyed in the Hundred Years' War and replaced with the present short towers in the early 18th century. The abbey buildings, which were rebuilt in the 18th century, functioned for a time as a hospital. They were beautifully restored in the 1980s by the Regional Council, who now use them as offices.

What to See

The abbey's Eglise de la Trinité (Trinity Church) is a fine example of 11th-century Romanesque architecture. The long nave is plain, with tall round arches typical of Norman Romanesque churches. The choir, the vault and the upper levels of the nave date from the early 12th century. Queen Matilda is buried under a slab of black marble in the choir.

As the headquarters of the Regional Council, the 18th-century abbey buildings are mostly closed to the public. However, the arcaded courtyard and ground-floor reception rooms can be viewed during free guided tours.

Quick Facts on the Abbaye aux Dames

Site Information
Names:Abbaye aux Dames; Abbaye aux Dames, Caen; Ladies' Abbey
Categories:Monasteries; Churches
Faiths:Christianity; Catholic; Benedictine
Feat:Famous Grave
Status:privately owned
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Caen, France
Coordinates:49.186349° N, 0.353006° W  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of the Abbaye aux Dames

Below is a location map and aerial view of the Abbaye aux Dames. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.


  1. Kenneth John Conant, Carolingian and Romanesque Architecture 800-1200 (Pelican History of Art) (Yale University Press, 1993), 447-48.
  2. Abbaye aux Dames - Fodor's France
  3. Abbaye aux Dames - Frommer's France
  4. Abbaye aux Dames - Rough Guide France

More Information

Article Info

Title:Abbaye aux Dames, Caen
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:02/11/2010
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/france/caen-abbaye-aux-dames/france/caen-abbaye-aux-dames">Abbaye aux Dames, Caen</a>