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Chartres Cathedral facing west, bathed in the glow of the setting sun

The best introduction to Chartres Cathedral is Episode 2 of the first and probably still the greatest TV art show ever aired. To see Sir Kenneth Clark on Civilisation (1969) is to fall in love with a building that also impressed the multi-talented American, Orson Welles. He called it “The premier work of man perhaps in the whole Western world.”

Chartres Cathedral's Rose window (south)

Facing west towards the setting sun, this rose window features scenes of Judgment Day.

The Royal Portal

Unidentified saints from the "Royal Portal" of the cathedral marked a radical new approach to sculpture.

The choir screen

The choir screen of the cathedral provides more evidence of the stonemasons' skills.

The Sancta Camisa

The veil of the Virgin Mary has drawn pilgrims to Chartres for more than a thousand years.

Pilgrims getting closer to Chartres

Chartres is still the destination of pilgrimages, as it was in the Middle Ages.

The Consecration of Chartres Cathedral.

France's only canonized King, Louis IX, was at Chartres Cathedral for its consecration. He was also a crusader who died in North Africa.

Pythagoras at Chartres

Pythagoras was a worthy subject for the stonemasons of Chartres, as geometry was so important to the building.

Col. Welborn B. Griffith, American hero of Chartres

The cathedral was saved by an American, Colonel Welborn B. Griffith Jr. In the commendation for his posthumous Distinguished Service Cross it was stated that: “Upon observing fire being directed at the cathedral in the center of the city, with utter disregard for his own safety, Colonel Griffith, accompanied by an enlisted man, searched the cathedral and finding that there were no enemy troops within, signaled for cessation of fire. Continuing his inspection of outlying positions north of the city, he suddenly encountered about fifteen of the enemy.”

Chartres Cathedral, according to the artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

Corot, one of France's greatest landscape artists, was moved to admiration of religious architecture by the sight of Chartres Cathedral.
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