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.

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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 (17 months 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. (17 months 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 years 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 years 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 (2 years 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.
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