Chartres Cathedral Notre Dame
France, Chartres

One of the greatest creations of Gothic architecture and Christian culture of the Middle Ages is the Chartres Cathedral of Notre Dame (Notre Dame - literally "Our Dear Madam"). The cathedral was erected on a site that has been considered sacred for centuries. Even in pre-Roman times, there was one of the main Celtic shrines, and according to some assumptions, the crypt of Chartres Cathedral is located just above this place. Until the 18th century, the cathedral housed an ancient and deeply revered by the faithful wooden figurine of the Virgin Mary, carrying under the heart of a child. Tradition relates it to pagan times: it is possible that this is an image of the Celtic goddess-foremother, then rethought in the mainstream of the Christian tradition. During the French Revolution, the figure died in a fire. At this place since 350 BC e. invariably stood the churches. True, from time to time they became victims of fierce fires - the latter, with the exception of the western facade and the altar, burned down almost to the ground in 1194. A new cathedral was erected on its ashes. This magnificent building was consecrated in 1260. Two bell towers with a height of more than 90 meters adjoin the cathedral from the western side. The one that is slightly lower and simpler in appearance, was built in the thirties of the XII century, the second one, taller and richer decorated, finished in 1513. In the western facade of the cathedral are three portals and three sculptures of the 12th century, the central of which depicts Christ in glory. The rose window in its stained glass windows captured the scenes of the Last Judgment. The entrances to the north and south transverse naves are decorated with sculptures of the 13th century. The exterior and interior of the cathedral has a total of about 10,000 sculptural images of stone and glass. The cathedral is famous for its stained-glass windows (their total area is about 2000 m2, which shimmer in the sun in many shades of blue and blue. A rose window of unusually large sizes and surprisingly skillful work crowns the southern and northern transverse naves. Another pearl of the cathedral is a 12th-century window Known as the Notre Dame de la Belle Venire, the Virgin has recently undergone special restoration work to eliminate the mysterious “glass spoilage” that ruined this masterpiece. a different labyrinth, most likely the whole one, was intended for penitent pilgrims who had to crawl all this way on their knees.The huge carved altar, representing forty scenes from the life of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, was begun in 1514, but it took more than two centuries to complete it. Along with the wooden figure of the Virgin Mary, the head of her mother, St. Anna, was also preserved in the cathedral, and the relic of the cathedral still houses the equally revered shrine - the Holy Shroud (Sainte Chemise). According to legend, it was this garment that was on the Virgin Mary at the birth of Jesus. Chartres attracted pilgrims and all times and their flow has not dried up to this day.

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