Chartres Cathedral, a Theological Aspiration

The designs are Carvings of Biblical images
The North Porch of Chartres Cathedral

At the opposite end of the spiritual spectrum from decadent Versailles, Chartres cathedral represented the highest architectural and theological aspirations of the Middle Ages in France. The Chartres cathedral was much the same in medieval times as it is now, which should give you a sense of how impressive it must have been in 1260, when it was completed. Rodin described it as the French Acropolis, and once you’ve seen it you’ll be hard pressed to disagree with him.

The celebrated Choir Screen of the Chartres cathedral has 40 niches holding statues of Biblical figures. Don’t be so dazzled by all the stained glass that you overlook its intricate carvings. There are also Rose Windows that no cathedral in the world can match. It’s a 12th century glass that gave the world a new color, Chartres blue, and is absolutely exceptional. All of its windows are glorious, but the three rose windows may be the best.

The Royal Portal found in Chartres cathedral presents sculpted bodies that are elongated and garbed in long, flowing robes, but their faces are almost disturbingly lifelike. Christ is shown at the Second coming – his descent to Earth on the right, his ascent back to Heaven on the left. Both the North portal and the South Portal are carved with Biblical images. The South Portal doorway is carved with the images of saints. The martyrs are carved on the right door, confessors are on the left. Apostles get the center.

The New Bell Tower present in the Chartres cathedral is for those enthusiasts that are not afraid of heights  and are physically fit who are not afraid to climb to the top of the tower. From the peak, you will see the view for miles.

Those who prefer underground crypts to the dizzying heights of the tower in Chartres cathedral will find that they can only visit them as part of a guided tour. An English language one is held twice a day most of the year by lecturer Malcom Miller at noon and 2:45pm Monday through Saturday with an admission fee of 10 Euros.

6 thoughts on “Chartres Cathedral, a Theological Aspiration”

  1. While I was still driving towards the quiet town of Chartres, the two towering spires of the Chartres Cathedral were already visible. Truly, there are a lot of world heritage sites in the vicinity of Paris, and France in general; however this was one of the very first heritage sites in the whole world. And it truly does deserve to be a heritage site because of the incredible details and elegance that they have put into making this cathedral.

  2. The Chartres Cathedral has also been through lot during the course of history. In fact, The exact location of the Chartres Cathedral was also the site of 4 other cathedrals before it. However, all of those cathedrals were all burnt down by a huge fire. The Chartres Cathedral also had its share of a fire, on two separate occasions to be exact. The first incident, the cathedral was spared but unfortunately half of the town was burnt down. The second fire incident was actually cause by a lightning which caused the destruction of the west tower, façade, and the crypt.

  3. I have also read about how the people in the Chartres helped to rebuild this magnificent cathedral. And true enough, the efforts of those people were not put in vain. In fact, I consider this to be one of the greatest and most beautiful edifices in the whole of Paris. The amazement that you get just by looking at the pictures of the cathedral will be doubled once you see in person. Though it is quite a few kilometers away from the city of Paris, the trip is well worth it once you get to see the untouched gothic beauty of Chartres Cathedral.

  4. The cathedral is open daily 8 in the morning until 8 in the evening on the months of May through October and its tours are guided in English language. It opens 8 in the morning until 7:15 in the evening on the months of November through April. The admission is for free which if a very good offer for tourists whose budget is not that high.

  5. There are also side trips available along the Chartres Cathedral. You should include a visit to the streets of Chartres’s Vieux Quartier. This streets is from the cathedral itself down to the distant location of Eure River. There you can find 800-year-old houses that owns a colorful facade. You can also explore the 16th to 20th century collections at Musee des Beaux Arts de Chartres which is right next to the cathedral.

  6. Very well written article. It will be supportive to everyone who uses it, as well as myself. Keep doing what you are doing – i will definitely read more posts.

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