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(Canton de Falaise, Calvados)

The castle

The town of origin and castle are located on a rocky promontory between the valleys of the two rivers Ante and Marescot. The castle occupies the eastern extremity of the promontory. The castle curtain wall was extended by ramparts sheltering the wall. Fortifications on the rocky promontory have probably been present since the end of the 9th or early 10th century, but in the texts, the existence of the castle is only attested from 1027. It was in the 11th century that Falaise became the new headquarters of the vicomté of Hiémois. As in Caen, the castle was at the origins of the town.

The current castle dates, overall, from the 12th and 13th centuries. In c. 1123, Henri I Beauclerc had the "Great Keep" ("Grand Donjon") built, on a rectangular plan, of which only the blind ground floor and first floor survive, sheltering a hall, private apartments and the St Pritz chapel.

The "Great Keep", reinforced by strong buttresses, is divided on the outside by a structural wall. The "Small Keep" ("Petit Donjon"), built in the mid-12th century, abuts onto the west face of the "Great Keep". After the conquest of Normandy, Philippe-Auguste had a circular tower built, known as the Tour Talbot, as a symbol of his power, whose construction was started in 1207. The curtain wall of the castle is formed from a wall, partly dating from the 12th century, reinforced by semi-circular towers from the 12th and 13th centuries and re-worked in the 15th century.
The castle, which was abandoned from 1617 and damaged in 1944, has undergone two restoration campaigns, one in the 19th century and the other at the end of the 20th century supervised by Bruno Decaris, who has notably re-established the previously lost front part in the east, that originally gave access to the Great Keep.


- Musset, Lucien. " Le château ", in: Falaise, Art de Basse-Normandie, n° 39, 1966, p. 30 à 33
- Chatelain, André. – Donjons romans des Pays d’Ouest, éditions A. et J. Picard, Paris, 1973, p. 118 à 120
- Decaëns, Joseph. " Le château de Falaise ", in: Baylé, Maylis (dir.). – L’architecture normande au Moyen-Age, Editions Charles Corlet, Condé-sur-Noireau, Presses universitaires de Caen, Caen, 1997, T. 2, p. 305 à 309
- Mesqui, Jean. – Châteaux forts et fortifications en France, Flammarion, Paris, 1997, p. 163-164
- Falaise / Service régional de l'Inventaire général de Basse-Normandie. - Caen : Direction régionale des Affaires Culturelles, non pag. (Itinéraires du Patrimoine, 81)