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The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres


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Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral


Chartres Cathedral - West Facade



We first experienced the magic of Chartres during a rather rushed half day visit in 2005.  In September 2007 Team Paradox returned for a more thorough two day exploration, particularly of some of the narrative stained glass windows and the three x three-door portals.     



Links to Paradoxplace pages on the Stained Glass windows of Chartres Cathedral


Link to map of window locations and their subjects and donors



Chartres Windows' Photos

Blue Virgin, Mary Magdelene, Charlemagne, St-James, Joseph, Good Samaritan, Tree of Jesse



The Chartres North Rose Window



The Chartres Zodiac Window


DETAILS    A: Aquarius to Taurus     B: Cancer to Capricorn



The Chartres Incarnation Window


The Chartres Passion Window



Charlemagne Window



Thomas Becket Window



Images of Medieval Tradesmen - the Guilds and others who Donated the Chartres Stained Glass Windows



Links to Paradoxplace pages on the Portals of Chartres Cathedral



North Portal


North Portal Zodiac and Monthly Activities Archivolt Sculptures



West (Royal) Portal


West Portal Zodiac and Monthly Activities Archivolt Sculptures



South Portal




Chartres Cathedral West Rose Window


West Rose (1200s) - The Last Judgement - in the centre, Christ surrounded by 12 apostles



The present cathedral of Chartres is at least the fifth on the site.  With the exception of the mid 1100s West Front (top) and the crypt, the bulk of the of the present structure dates from the thirty year rebuild after a disastrous fire in 1194.    This transformed Chartres into the first of the "soaring gothic cathedrals" and now the only one to still have much of its 1100s, 1200s and 1300s narrative stained glass windows and sculptures intact (not to mention a labyrinth) - ironically because of a lack of funds for "improvements". 


Top:  The West Front - the oldest part of the cathedral (mid 1100s) - incorporating the Royal (West) Portal surmounted by lancet windows (detail below) and rose (above) depicting the Last Judgement.




This pocket sized guide to Chartres Cathedral (in English) is the best detailed guide. It details almost every window scene and individual statue inside and outside the cathedral, even including archivolt cycles.


Malcolm Miller's book is an excellently written and illustrated guide.  If you also want to delve into more background about Chartres and the great age of cathedrals, Ball's book is one of the best we have come across.





KEY (note, the Cathedral faces NE)



Royal Portal

Mid 1100s (rescued from1194 fire)


Jesse, Incarnation, Passion & Resurrection windows

Mid 1100s (rescued from1194 fire)



The last surviving original medieval cathedral labyrinth.  It is the same diameter as the West Rose, and its distance from the west wall is the same as the height of the rose.


West Rose Window (Last Judgement) (above)

c1215 during post fire rebuild


South Rose Window (Second Coming) & Lancet Windows (2007 closed for extensive restoration)



South Portal



Blue Virgin Window

Mid 1100s (rescued from 1194 fire)


North Rose Window & Lancet Windows



North Portal

Early 1200s






Buy from Amazon UK


At last an affordable book of brilliant close up photos of story panels from the medieval stained glass windows of Chartres.  Commentary in French but 95% of the space is pictures! (c23x23cm)




Vitraux de Chartres


Photos of every window



 Chartres Cathedral West Lancet Windows 1100s



The three rescued 1100s lancet windows under the West Rose.  Left:  The Passion and Resurrection Window (detail below); Centre: The Incarnation Window (detail below); Right: The Jesse Window.



Passion Window, Chartres Cathedral



  The Passion Window (1100s), detail left to right from bottom:  Transfiguration, Descent from Mount Tabor with three disciples, Last Supper, Jesus washes the Apostles' Feet. 


Link to a whole window photo of the Passion Window



Incarnation Window, Chartres Cathedral



  The Incarnation Window (1100s) detail left to right from bottom:  Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Angels appear to Shepherds, Herod meets the Magi (2 panels), Adoration of the Magi and their Departure. 





Royal West Portal Chartres Cathedral



The Royal (West) Portal, the oldest (c1155) of the three portals - some zodiac signs are to be found in the archivolts of the left and right hand doorways.  The symbols of the four evangelists surround a mandorlaed Christ in a "tetramorph" in the central tympanum.





Shepherds Annunciation, Chartres Cathedral


"And there were shepherds, keeping watch over their flock by night, "



West Portal - right hand (south) door lintel:  Shepherds getting the good news wow from a depleted archangel




Chartres Cathedral Apse


The morning sun shines on the transept and apse at the eastern end of Chartres Cathedral



Chartres Cathedral North Porch



The North Portal (early 1200s) in the evening September sun (Zodiacs and monthly labours are in the outer archivolts of the left hand doorway).  Because the North Portal is not in the main pedestrian drag, there are a lot fewer people round here, and most of them are looking closely at their guides to identify the story lines in the door surrounds and multiple archivolts.





North Rose Window, Chartres Cathedral



The North Rose (probably the best known of all the great rose windows of the cathedrals of Northern France) and Lancet Windows over the North Portal.  The windows were given to the Cathedral in 1230 by Queen Blanche of Castile (grand-daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Queen Consort of French King Louis VIII "The Lion" and subduer of Cathars).


Link to 2007 photos of the Chartres Cathedral North Rose ensemble



The South Rose and Lancet Windows, c1225 (photographed in 2005).  By 2007 the south end of the transept was covered in scaffolding for a major restoration.


South Poirtal, Chartres Cathedral



The South Portal (c 1225) (photographed in 2005 pre scaffolding)





Magi in Chartres Cathedral



Narrative sculpture (Medieval Cavalier Magi) in the ambulatory


The Magi in Art and Sculpture



Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth



The Chartres Labyrinth


The nave and its famous inlaid labyrinth, which was built c1200.  In those days most cathedrals had them, and they were used as "pilgrimage experience simulators" (or substitutes).


Now only the Chartres labyrinth is left - unless you count Amiens, whose severe looking tiled octagonal job was destroyed in early 1800s "renovations" then reinvented 70 years later.  Which is why it is sad that the Chartres Labyrinth spends most of it's time under rows of chairs.  This photo was taken on a Friday morning in mid June 2005 - would be labyrinth watchers and walkers weigh the odds of a clear run in their favour on Fridays, but a successful sighting is by no means certain .... if it's important it's best to do more research


More about the Chartres Labyrinth.


Note also that the lights are on, which makes a huge difference to the otherwise sombre interior - this beautiful place is many many things, but not a church of light as is often claimed. 



Chartres Cathedral Aerial View



Left: aerial photo of Chartres Cathedral

from .....



Buy from Amazon USA

 Buy from Amazon UK



Chartres Cathedral - Alison Stone's site hosted by the University of Pittsburg



Chartres Cathedral, in Holly Hayes' "Sacred Destinations"






A fascinating book


 Buy from Amazon USA         Buy from Amazon UK














Buy from Amazon UK




Chartres Cathedral, Malcom Miller

 Buy from Amazon USA

 Buy from Amazon UK



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