Unlike its neighbor Bayeux, Caen did not emerge from World War II unscathed. Modern Caen stands out from other Norman cities thanks to its architecture, which tends to be much more contemporary than that of Bayeux.
That being said, Caen does still have a very long history, and evidence of its past still remains. Caen was the home city of William the Conqueror, and the Duke of Normandy returned to his home city with his wife, Matilda of Flanders, to build the Abbaye-aux-Hommes and Abbaye-aux-Dames, in large part to convince the Pope to sanction the marriage, as Matilda was William's cousin. Both abbeys were important during the Battle of Normandy, as Caen's residents sought refuge inside.
Other older sites include the Chateau de Caen, built by William the Conqueror himself, as well as several 17th-century private mansions.
Caen is also a center for education, with the university of Caen welcoming more than 25,000 students every year on three different campuses throughout the city. The university is one of the oldest in France. Caen also boasts a fine-arts school and engineering school.
With all of its students, it's perhaps no surprise that Caen is a vibrant city, home to the Caen Theater, which has a baroque music ensemble. Some shopping exists in Caen proper, with a shopping center, Mondeville 2, just outside the city. Many of Caen's sites can be reached either on foot or via city bus or tram.
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