Chartres, Cathedral - Visit time : half-day.
The Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece of the 12th and 13th centuries, imposing its unity and harmony on the surrounding area.
It is often considered a perfect gothic cathedral, one that has traversed the centuries without major incident despite the many chapters of history that have unfolded around it. With its beautifully preserved stained glass and statuary, it is possible today to admire this monumental ensemble in its (mostly) original splendor. Its exceptional state of preservation and the speed at which it was built (most of the building was completed in just 26 years) make the cathedral a major and unique testament to the world of Christendom in the Middle Ages. Although it was built on the base of a Romanesque construction, it shows great architectural homogeneity and demonstrates a certain continuity between the two styles.
The Chartres Cathedral was the center of medieval Christianity. A major pilgrimage site, it is visible from many kilometers away with its bell tower that rises to 112 meters, guiding pilgrims to this holy place.
Partly built starting in 1145, and rebuilt in 26 years 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 mid-12th century, and its shimmering stained glass windows from the 12th and 13th centuries, make it a unique and remarkably well-preserved masterpiece.
Chartres Cathedral was selected as a World Heritage site in 1979 under criteria (i), (ii) and (iv).
Criteria for selection
Criterion (i) : Constructed rather quickly and completed almost all at once, the Chartres Cathedral, through the unity of its architecture and decoration, contains the total and achieved expression of one of the most unanimous aspects of the Christian Middle Ages
Criterion (ii) : The Chartres Cathedral has had a considerable influence on the development of Gothic architecture in and outside of France.
Criterion (iv) : The Chartres Cathedral is both a symbol and a model of construction : it is the most illuminating example of the cultural, social and aesthetic elements of a Gothic cathedral.
Source : UNESCO / ICOMOS