Chartres Cathedral, also referred to as Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Chartres is without doubt one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture. It was constructed over the remains of an earlier Romanesque church which had been destroyed by fire. The result is a mix of styles, with the unique north and south towers, south steeple, west portal, and crypt enhanced by lofty Gothic additions. Peasant and lord alike helped to rebuild the church in 25 years. Few alterations had been made after 1250, and luckily Cathedral was unscathed by the Wars of Religion and the French Revolution.
THE ROYAL PORTAL
After the devastating fire of 1194, a conclusion was taken to retain the magnificent west entrance (Royal Portal), which was a survivor of the Romanesque church. Though this created a blend of architectural styles, it was an astute choice that resulted in the survival of numbers of the greatest sculptures of the early Middle Ages. The Royal Portal, carved between 1145 and 1155, is essentially the most decorative of the cathedal’s three entrances. The attributes of the statues within the portal are lengthened in Romanesque style and depict figures from the Old Testament. The portal represents the glory of Christ.
Donated by aristocracy, the merchandise brotherhoods and royalty between 1210 and 1240, the cathedral’s superb array of stained-glass windows is world famous. Over a hundred and fifty windows illustrate biblical tales and every day life in the thirteenth century. Every window is split into panels, that are normally read from left to right and bottom to top (Earth to heaven). The underside panel of the Blue Virgin Window depicts Christ’s conversion of water into wine. Throughout each world war, the windows had been dismantled piece by piece and eliminated for safety.
There are round 4,000 statues at Chartres Cathedral. Luckily, having remained nearly untouched since being sculpted, they’re in a outstanding state of preservation. Unbelievable examples, tracing the evolution of Gothic sculpture, are clustered across the north and south portals. The north porch is dedicated to representations of such Old Testament figures (Joseph, Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, Isaiah, and Jeremiah). Also illustrated are scenes from Christ’s childhood and the Creation of the World. The South Porch portrays the Final Judgment, and episodes of the lives of saints. Tons of of figures adorning each portal have been initially painted in vivid colours.