Chartres Cathedral

3:11:00 PM Unknown 0 Comments

I love churches!  I love their soaring ceilings, I love the stained glass, I enjoy the retelling of scriptural stories in sculpture, paint and tapestry.  I love the acoustics and music that fills the air and in Europe, there is no shortage of them.   It is not uncommon to hear from the back seat, "not another church!" 

I have found that there are repeating themes and symbols, and wanted to know more, so a few months ago I ordered a lecture series from here.  I learned a ton!  Two lectures were devoted to the Cathedral at Chartres, so I made it a point to visit while we were in Paris.  

The Details
Address16 Cloître Notre Dame, 28000 Chartres, France
Hours: 8:30am-7:30pm
Tour:  Malcolm Miller 12:00/2:45pm
Time: 1:15
Cost: 10e/adults 5e/children if they use a head set.  
Tip:  Bring binoculars

Phone:+33 2 37 21 52 10
Address: 32 Rue Sainte-Même, 28000 Chartres, France

Malcolm Miller is the foremost authority on Chartres; he's been studying it for 25 years.  He is recommended by Rick Steves' and Trip Advisor gives him high marks, but I am going to tell you what I did not like about his tour.  The man is knowledgable, but his delivery was somewhat pedantic and dry.  He bogged us down with dates and events in Europe that weren't essential.  He wasn't very open to questions, but the thing that disappointed me the most was that he did NOTHING to engage my children.  There were 5 children on the tour and he could have so easily made the church come alive for them if he would have just tried. Instead, he shushed the toddler and put the parents on edge.  
The Cathedral doesn't disappoint though, it is lovely and it's in the process of being restored to its former glory with painted brick and a clean exterior. The windows, most of which are original, are spectacular and because the apse has been painted the church as a whole is much brighter than a lot of Gothic cathedrals.
 Below:The Good Samaritan Window--I know you can't see any of the detail in the stained glass, but it's windows like these that told the stories of the Bible through pictures to an illiterate public.  Each pane captures a scene from the story, it's great. 
View of South Portal Central Arch
Close up of the tympanum--The subject here is the Judgement and Resurrection of the dead. Those on the right side of the photo are the damned and those on the left are the saved.  Interestingly, the sculptor included clergy and politicians among the damned.
Close up of the jam statues--These are New Testament Apostles, each holding his identifier.  Peter, first on the right is holding a key--He holds the keys to the kingdom.  James the Lessor, in the center, holds a saw because that was sawn in half.  *Most of them hold the instrument by which they were killed.