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Caen Coat of Arms
Caen (France)
region Normandy
Department Calvados ( prefecture )
Arrondissement Caen
Canton Caen-1
Community association Caen la Mer
Coordinates 49 ° 11 ′  N , 0 ° 22 ′  W Coordinates: 49 ° 11 ′  N , 0 ° 22 ′  W
height 2-73 m
surface 25.70 km 2
- Unité urbaine
105,354 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 4,099 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 14000, 14300
INSEE code

Saint-Etienne Male Abbey (Town Hall)

Template: Infobox municipality in France / maintenance / different coat of arms in Wikidata

Saint-Etienne monastery church
Caen Castle

Caen [ kɑ̃ ] ( French Caen ? / I ) (Latin Cadomum [from Celtic * Catumagos ], Norman Caën or Kaem ) is a city in the French region of Normandy and with 105,354 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017) the largest city in the department Calvados . It is also the seat of the prefecture of the department. The prefecture also manages the Caen arrondissement . Caen is located on the Orne River , 15 kilometers above its confluence with the English Channel , and 50 kilometers southwest of Le Havre . Audio file / audio sample


Etymology of the city name

The oldest surviving forms of the city name from the eleventh century are Cadon / Cadun , Cathim and Cadomo / Cadomi / Cadomum . However, based on similar derivations (especially at Rouen ) it is assumed that a Celtic preform Catumagos could have existed. This in turn means 'battlefield' as a combination of the two ancient Celtic words * katu- 'fight' (also in Old Irish cath , Breton kad ) and * mago (s) - 'level, field' (e.g. in Old Irish mag ) .

Prehistory and early history

The oldest traces can be found at the nearby Pierre Tourneresse in Cairon .


According to archaeological investigations, a Gallo-Roman vicus developed in the area of ​​the later Abbaye aux hommes during the Roman imperial period from the 1st to the 3rd century AD , which was located near a Roman road connecting Augustodurum with Noviomagus Lexoviorum .

middle Ages

Caen, first mentioned in a document in 1027, experienced rapid urban development in the 11th century. It was known as burgus ( bourg ), was the center of an extensive ducal domain, was at the crossroads of major roads and had markets and a port. As an important city of the Duchy of Normandy , it first developed under William the Conqueror . He built a strong fortress in Caen and around 1059 an abbey for women ( Abbaye aux dames ) and one for men (Abbaye aux hommes) , in which he was buried. Later, during the Huguenot Wars (1562), his grave was destroyed and his bones were lost. Wilhelm's tombstone can still be seen in the church today. He had the monasteries built in order to atone for his marriage to his cousin Mathilde , which the Pope disapproved of . Both monasteries are among the most important architectural monuments in Normandy and are now used as parish churches - abandoned by monks and nuns during the French Revolution .

The English King Wilhelm II and his brother, Duke Robert II of Normandy, signed a treaty in Caen in 1091 in which they settled their disputes. If the Norman conquest of England (1066) had already promoted the further upswing of Caen, it also benefited from the fire of the rival city of Bayeux in 1105 . Caen developed into a center of intellectual life - so that the theologian Thibaud von Étampes († after 1120) studied here - and became one of the main residences of King Henry I († 1135), then the administrative center in the late phase of the 12th century of Normandy as well as the seat of its highest court and audit office ( Echiquier ). Many high-ranking citizens of Caen worked for the royal financial administration. The so-called pierre de Caen , an indigenous quarry stone, represented the most important export goods of the city port; mainly it was exported to England. Between 5000 and 10,000 people are likely to have lived in Caen at the beginning of the 13th century.

The French King Philip II August was able to take possession of Caen in May 1204 without resistance and confirmed the city's freedoms granted by Johann Ohneland on June 17, 1203. But it lost something of its previous status as a political and spiritual center. After all, the settlement development of Caen with its three districts (Bourg le Roi, Bourg l'Abbé, Bourg l'Abbesse) continued. Louis IX stayed here in 1256 and 1269. In Caen there was now an important textile industry, the products of which such as sheets and linen fabrics were mainly exported to Italy. In contrast, trade contacts with England decreased.

In the initial phase of the Hundred Years War , the city was on July 26, 1346 by King Edward III. conquered and plundered by England before he went on with his army and fought out the victorious battle of Crécy . On October 8, 1346, King Philip VI gave Caen . permission from France to build strong city walls. But now there was ongoing insecurity in Caen and its surroundings, with the plague and rebellions of the inhabitants added. Around 1357, an oath of six citizens ( bourgeois jurés ) took over the management of a newly established city government, in which the office of mayor was not provided.

King Henry V of England conquered Caen in September 1417. It remained in English possession until 1450 in the late phase of the Hundred Years War. Most of the residents preferred not to emigrate. During the reign of the Duke of Bedford , the University of Caen was founded in January 1432 and officially opened in 1436. After the capitulation of the English occupation, Caen fell back to the French crown in June 1450. King Charles VII was able to make his ceremonial entry into Caen on July 6th, 1450. Since then, the city has belonged permanently to France. Charles VII confirmed the status of the university established under English rule. Louis XI. signed a treaty of alliance with the Duke of Brittany in Caen on December 23, 1465. The king was unable to revive the city's declining economy since the French reconquest; his attempted establishment of large trade fairs in Caen in 1470 failed. Meanwhile, at least, intellectual life began to blossom again. It was not until the early 16th century that a general rise began, so that Caen, alongside Rouen, became an important center for the spread of Renaissance culture in Normandy.

16th to 19th century

In 1542 Caen became the seat of the General Council for Lower Normandy. In 1547 and again in 1584 and 1624 plague epidemics raged in the city . The Reformation found numerous followers here. At the time of the Huguenot Wars, Caen came into the hands of the Huguenots in April 1562 , but it soon submitted to the French king again; but later, with Coligny's help , the Reformed captured the castle. After the Edict of Amboise (March 19, 1563), Caen was less affected by the ongoing unrest. During the existence of the Holy League , the city was part of the king's party, and in 1589 the loyal parliamentarians of Normandy temporarily moved here. In 1639 the uprising of the Nu-pieds (ie "barefoot") was cruelly suppressed.

During the reign of Louis XIV there was an economic boom in the city, but this ended when the Huguenots emigrated in 1685 as a result of the repeal of the Edict of Nantes . The city's port also silted up. In the period before the French Revolution, there were several riots as a result of high grain prices. When the revolution broke out, the residents seized the castle of Caen on July 18, 1789, and Charles-François Dumouriez was recently in command . On August 12, 1789, a crowd massacred the new castle commander, Henri de Belzunce. General Wimpffen undertook a failed uprising against the Jacobins from Caen after the fall of the Girondins (late May 1793) . Charlotte Corday , who was living in Caen at the time , left here in July 1793 to murder Jean Paul Marat . In 1815 the city was captured by the Prussian First Army Corps and the citadel was occupied.

20th century

During the First World War , a prisoner-of-war camp for German soldiers was set up in Caen . When the Western Allies determined the coast of Normandy as the landing site of the invasion during the Second World War in 1944 , Caen became particularly important as a railway junction. After the successful landing of the British, Canadians and US Americans on June 6, 1944 ( D-Day ), initially only the British and French commandos advanced on Caen; later other Allied troops joined them. According to Operation Overlord , the plan was to occupy the city in a few days, because the rapid capture of Caen as the first major city on French soil would have had a great strategic and psychological war effect.

The German defenders put up an unexpectedly massive resistance. During the battle for Caen , the city was almost completely destroyed. It was not until July 19, 1944, that the British and Canadians succeeded in completely taking Caen.

The reconstruction of Caen lasted from 1948 to 1962. On June 6, 2004, Gerhard Schröder, a German Chancellor, was invited to the anniversary celebration of the invasion for the first time.

Population development

year 1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006 2016
Residents 91,336 110.262 119,640 114.068 112,846 113.987 110,399 105.403
Sources: Cassini and INSEE



Mayor of Caen has been Joël Bruneau since April 5, 2014. The member of the UMP replaced Philippe Duron from the Socialist Party of France , who had ruled the city for the united left-wing list Caen en Capitals since 2008.

Town twinning

The city of Caen entertains you with following cities a twinning :

Economy and Infrastructure


The Tramway de Caen , a track-guided trolleybus on pneumatic tires , operated in Caen until December 31, 2017 . For cost reasons and because of numerous breakdowns, it was decided to discontinue the system and replace it with a conventional tram . Operations started on July 27, 2019.

The Caen-Carpiquet airport is located outside the city, near the town of Carpiquet , and offers a few domestic flights, but also seasonal flights e.g. B. to Spain, Malta and Croatia. With over 100,000 passengers per year, the airfield is the most important in Normandy. Caen also has a dense network of bus routes. The city can also be reached with smaller ships via the Canal de Caen à la Mer , which runs parallel to the Orne River to the mouth at Ouistreham . In addition to the marina, the city of Caen also has the trade and ferry port Caen-Ouistreham with daily ferries to Portsmouth . The railway line to Paris is to be partially rebuilt in the next decade and the travel time will be reduced from 1:45 hours to one hour.

Established businesses

The company NXP Semiconductors maintains in Caen a semiconductor plant with a research and development department. There are also production facilities for Renault and Bosch . However, the largest employer in the region is the university hospital.


In Caen is the 1432 of King Henry VI. University of Caen founded by England . It was almost completely destroyed during the heavy fighting in World War II, but was rebuilt and expanded after the end of the war. The symbol of the university is therefore the phoenix .

The university is divided into the older Campus 1 near the city center and Campus 2 further north. The former mainly houses the humanities and social sciences, while most of the natural sciences can be found on Campus 2 . There is also a Campus 3 , which is located in the southern suburb of Ifs and houses the Institut universitaire de Technologie (IUT) . There are currently around 25,000 students studying at the Université de Basse-Normandie .

There is also the ESAM art school in Caen (Ecole supérieure d'arts et médias de Caen-Cherbourg), which offers evening courses for children and adults in addition to various regular courses. In total, approx. 1,800 students and course participants are taught at ESAM Caen-Cherbourg each year.

Culture and sights

  • The two Romanesque churches of the Abbaye aux Hommes ("men 's abbey ") Saint-Étienne and the Abbaye aux Dames ("women's abbey") Sainte-Trinité , as well as the castle of William the Conqueror are the main attractions.
  • The Saint-Pierre church
  • The Saint-Jean church
  • The Mémorial de Caen is one of the most visited museums on the history of the Second World War outside of the Paris metropolitan area.
  • The art museum in the old castle, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen , has an important collection of paintings.
  • In the “Musée de Normandie”, which is also located in the castle, the history of the Normandy region from the Stone Age to the present day is shown with numerous exhibits.
  • The "Jardin botanique" and the "Parc floral de la Colline aux Oiseaux" are important parks


  • Caen was a stage venue of the Tour de France a total of 15 times between 1947 and 2006 .
  • The World Equestrian Games were held in Caen in August / September 2014.
  • From 1952 to 1958, the Grand Prix de Caen automobile race was held six times in the city.
  • SM Caen currently plays in the second highest French football league, Ligue 2 . The home games are played at the Stade Michel-d'Ornano .



The city of Caen (Latin Cadomus ) was named after the Cadomian orogeny , a phase of mountain formation that took place during the late Neoproterozoic about 650-550 million years ago. The northern edge of Gondwana and the (later) eastern edge of Baltica were recorded.


  • Le Patrimoine des Communes du Calvados. Volume 1, Flohic Editions, Paris 2001, ISBN 2-84234-111-2 , pp. 394-474.

Web links

Wiktionary: Caen  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Caen  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. also Cannae in southern Italy.
  2. Un nouveau tramway circulera en 2018 , Newsletter Maville Caen, December 15, 2011, accessed on April 8, 2014
  3. Last ride of the tram on tires in Caen. Retrieved January 4, 2018 .
  4. ^ Project page (French) , accessed on June 16, 2012
  5. école supérieure d'arts & médias de Caen / Cherbourg
  6. le dico du tour: Caen dans le Tour de France depuis 1947 , accessed on January 23, 2013