Notre-Dame de Chartres
By walwyn - February 17th, 2011
Designated a UNESCO World heritage Site in 1979 the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Chartres was built from between 1145 and 1250.1 It's high nave is spanned by ogival pointed arches to form the vault, and the walls are supported by double flying buttresses. Chartres is the first building to have used buttresses as a structural element.2
The western façade was begun in about 1150 and was originally designed to decorate the Romenesque cathedral built by Bishop Fulbert after a fire in 1020 had damaged an earlier building. However, another fire in 1194 destroyed much of the Romanesque building and a new cathedral in the Gothic style was built to replace it.
The façade was conceived to be a larger version of that of St Denis in Paris. With Chartres being much wider than St. Denis there was room for three portals and three large windows. The twin towers were also taken from the design of St. Denis. A major element of the design are the elongated statues of Old Testament Kings and Queens from which the façade gets its name of the "Royal Portal".3
Although we know the names of some of the master builders of the French cathedrals: Robert de Luzarches and Thomas de Cormont (Amiens), Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil (Notre-Dame de Paris), and Hugh Libergier at Reims, there are no surviving record of the master builders at Chartres cathedral.
Chartres Cathedral has some of the most beautiful medieval stained glass windows to have survive the upheavals of the last 800 years. The earliest date from the mid 12th century, but most are from the 13th century.4