Chartres medieval Gothic cathedral dominates the horizon as it stretches towards the heavens. This amazing church has been here in one form or the other since the Druids occupied the mound on which it sets 100 years before the time of Christ.
The medieval Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady, Cathédrale Notre-Dame, fascinates me in new ways every time I visit. From the unbelievable collection of stained glass to the mathematics of the church architecture, I love every aspect of this church.
In addition, to a beautiful exterior, the church you see today is built on the Crypt of St. Lubin which is from the Carolingian time period (751-957A.D.). This part of the crypt is the oldest part of the church. There are amazing frescoes on the walls and ceilings in the crypt as well as stained glass in the portions that are not entirely beneath the surface level of the ground.
The flying buttresses of this Cathedral are considered to be the oldest example of this type of architecture. (Photo courtesy of Aidan McRae Thomson )
The blue in the stained glass windows is particularly spectacular in the evening while the yellows and reds are brilliant in the morning light. The Blue Madonna window is georgeous as you can see in this section of the window!
Stained glass was used to tell the stories of the Bible to those who could not read. There are 6500 square feet of stained glass with 152 of the original 186 windows still in existence.
No matter where you are in the town, you can always orient yourself with the spires of the cathedral. Wander around; enjoy the shops – there are some great antique stores and if you are there during July the department stores run the most fabulous sales!
Finally, don’t miss the Light and Sound show which starts every night at dark. The little tram ride is a great way to see all the wonderful historic features of Chartres which are featured in the show. You will have a whole list of churches, lavoirs and other historic elements of the town that you will want to return to in the daylight.