Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Caen you believe we’re in France?

People often remark about the United States’ youth relative to Europe, but it’s hard to fully understand the true difference between the US and European nations without seeing it. It’s a contrast that appears in culture, history, architecture, and many other aspects of modern European life. During our trip to Northern France, my first real introduction to this contrast was seeing the Château de Caen. The castle was built by William the Conquerer in the eleventh century, making it almost a thousand years old. After learning about the castle, we got the chance to see the Tapestry of Bayeux. This “document” is both important and fascinating because it tells the story of William the Conquerer’s rise to power. Additionally, it represents one of the oldest documents still intact. One of the most interesting things about the tapestry is the caption-like writing embroidered into some of the scenes. The fact that it is divided into numbered scenes is also very interesting. It’s an effective way to tell the story to the individuals of the time, many of whom were illiterate. The next day, we returned to the Château de Caen to give it another, closer look. When we were there, we read about the events that have taken place at the castle throughout its history. It was truly remarkable how many historical periods had affected the landscape and the castle itself, from the French Revolution to the Second World War. In a way, the castle and it’s transformations told the story of the city of Caen much like the Tapestry of Bayeux told he story of William the Conquerer’s journey to becoming the King of England. In this way, the age of European civilization allows its landscape to hold some of the memory of its people.