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Caen, located 9.3 miles inland from the English Channel, is the capital of Lower Normandy and the prefecture of the Calvados department in northern France. Located in the centre of its region it is a centre of political, economic and cultural power. With a population of 115,000, it is a busy university city and very modern, with four-fifths of it having been demolished in 1944 and rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s.
The city first gained notoriety when William the Conqueror made it his capital where he went on to build two abbeys as well as the ducal castle. The French regained control of Caen in the 13th century but during the 100 Years’ War in 1346 the English destroyed the city. During the years of rebuilding, the king began building stronger defences around the city. During World War II, the Battle of Normandy affected much of Caen, as heavy battle raged through the city. The rebuilding that was needed as a result ensued shortly after the war. In total it is said that the rebuilding of the city took around 14 years.