Far ahead of its time: Notre-Dame-de-Chartres

Far ahead of its time: Notre-Dame-de-Chartres

New architectural style for Europe

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in Chartres, about 80 kilometers southwest of Paris. 876 Charles the Bald gave the bishop of the city a relic from the possessions of Charlemagne: a robe of the Virgin Mary. This triggered a pilgrimage stream necessitating the cathedral's expansion. In 1195, finally a building was begun, which today is considered the archetype of Gothic architcture: the Notre-Dame-de-Chartres. From a distance it seems to hover in mid-air above waving fields of wheat, and it is only when the visitor draws closer that the city comes into view, clustering around the hill on which the cathedral stands. There are two contrasting spires. One is a 105 meter (349 ft.) plain pyramid dating from the 1140s, and the other is a 113 meter (377 ft.) tall early 16th century Flamboyant spire on top of an older tower. Both soar upwards over the pale green roof, while all around the outside are complex flying buttresses.

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