Chartres Cathedral

Chartres, France

Partly built starting in 1145, and then reconstructed over a 26-year period after the fire of 1194, Chartres Cathedral marks the high point of French Gothic art. The vast nave, in pure ogival style, the porches adorned with fine sculptures from the middle of the 12th century, and the magnificent 12th and 13th century stained-glass windows, all in remarkable condition, combine to make it a masterpiece.

The construction project used the plans laid out by the first architect in order to preserve the harmonious aspect of the cathedral. Work began first on the nave and by 1220 the main structure was complete, with the old crypt, the west towers and the west facade incorporated into the new building. On October 24, 1260, the cathedral was finally dedicated in the presence of King Louis IX and his family. Chartres Cathedral was never destroyed nor looted during the French Revolution and the numerous restorations never have altered its glorious beauty. It always stayed the same: a great triumph of Gothic art.

Not only is Chartres Cathedral one of the greatest achievements in the history of architecture, it is almost perfectly preserved in its original design and details. In addition to its architectural splendor, Chartres Cathedral has been a major pilgrimage destination since the early Middle Ages. Its venerable history, exquisitely preserved architecture, and centuries of fervent devotion make for an atmosphere of awe and holiness that impresses even the most nonreligious of visitors.

The cathedral was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 1145-1260
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Brad Peppard (40 days ago)
Simply spectacular. Almost entirely cleaned and renovated. They are even replacing stained glass windows that were destroyed in WW II! (extensive notes exist that allow them to recreate the originals)
Phillip P. (42 days ago)
A gothic architectural gem. Requires a train ride from Paris. UNESCO World Heritage Site. Initial construction from 1145 and completed in 1220. Contains the famed Chartres Cathedral labyrinth. Exquisite tympanum, monumental screen, and sculpture. Recently underwent extensive restoration beginning in 2009.
Camilla Kirkpatrick (2 months ago)
An amazingly beautiful cathedral. Testament to the will and genius of medieval architecture. Crisp, cold evening and foggy. Stayed for vespers which was very special.
Heath Pye (2 months ago)
Beautiful inside and out. The town surrounding the Cathedral is both ancient and modern and interesting to wonder around. The central underground car park is one of the cleanest and best designed I have visited so if you are lucky enough to have a nice car it's a great place to park.
Marie-Suzanne Knott (3 months ago)
Haven't been since a family holiday 50 years ago. I appreciate the architecture and scale better now. Cleaning of the interior in progress in wonderful. The stained glass windows are extraordinary and worth the visit for themselves.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Castle Rushen

Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.

The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.

After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.

The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.

Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.