The Wondrous Background
and History of Chartres Cathedral
Old Testament’s Kind David (Northern Window) - Western Gate of Chartres Cathedral - Melchizedek, King of Salem (Northen Gate)
The Knights Templar, through the implementation of Gothic architecture (which included Sacred Geometry), constructed some of the most beautiful and long-lasting spiritual monuments in the world, the Notre-Dame Cathedrals. Of these cathedrals, one of the most magnificent and sacred is Notre-Dame-de-Chartes. It is simultaneously a spectacular architectural marvel & one of the most sacred spiritual sites in all the world. It is a place rich with historical significance and esoteric secrets.
The telluric earth currents are at their highest there, in Chartres. These spiritual energies were, and are, so special that the site was recognized for its divine atmosphere even in Druidic times. The location of Chartres is so deeply honored and respected that it is the only cathedral not to have a single king, bishop, cardinal, canon, or anyone interred in the soil of its mound. Originally it was a pagan site, dedicated to the traditional Mother Goddess - a site to which pilgrims travelled long before the time of Jesus. “The original altar was built above the Grotte des Druides, which housed a sacred dolmen”, and was identified with the ‘Womb of the Earth’. This was the chamber of the Black Virgin (Black Madonna), the Virgin who is to give birth to a Child, Our-Lady-of-Under-the-Earth.
It is said that the construction of the Notre-Dame-de-Chartres, in Chartres France, was completed in a mere 26 years! It is said that construction began in the year 1194 & was completed in the year 1220. However, this is only partially correct. The cathedral that stands today actually replaced a succession of several other churches that were built on the site. Each of the previous churches was razed to the ground (of these previous churches, The Church of Gislebert was totally destroyed by a fire on the night of September 7th in the year 1020. The bishop of Chartres, Fulbert, immediately undertook the task of its rebuilding, in the Romanesque architecture style of a white church).
However, in September 1134 a fire again tore through the town of Chartres. This fire burnt down the Hospital, which stood near the church, and reached the church itself. As a result of this latest disaster the church’s western porch and the conjoining belfry were lost. This necessitated another round of reconstruction on the church. Construction on the west front of the cathedral began around 1140. It was also as a result of this fire that the building of the towers we know today was implemented. These towers were not near the church but, instead, in front of it. And so it began and was done.
Disaster struck, yet again, on the night of June 10th in the year 1194. Another fire burnt all of the church, save for the crypt and the west front. Thus began the construction on the Notre Dame de Chartres in 1194.
Given that not all of the church that had been previously erected on the site was destroyed, the Knights Templar had quite a good foundation to start off from. In fact, most of the foundation work under the nave of the current cathedral dates back to that Romanesque church. The basic scheme of the choir and 3 chapels also date back to that same church. The chapel to the east of the choir, however, was added at a later date.
As has been said, Chartres Cathedral is quite an architectural feat, with many features that make it unique. The theatrical art on the exterior is tied to the public display of universal knowledge. It is also the only cathedral in France that was built, except for the towers, in one sweep!
This sacred monument contains the West Front, which predates the fire of 1194. There are also 2 towers, North and South, at the West End. The South Tower’s spire transforms from the shape of a square to that of an octahedron and finally comes to a perfect point. This spire, completed in 1160 and one of the earliest spires in all of Europe, also survived the fire. The North Tower’s spire was added later, in the 16th century.
The cathedral’s West Front, North Porch, and South Porch all have 3 huge doors. Chartres is unique in having 3 separate triple-doorways.
Even the 167 stained glass windows of Chartres are unique, dating back to the early 13th century. The usage of this type of window appeared in the early 12th century but vanished in the middle of the 13th century. The luminous nature of this type of window is superior to that of any other and it is far more effective in enhancing the light. Its interior lighting effect is the same, regardless of the degree of light coming from the outside. This special type of stained glass also has the unique power to transmute harmful ultra-violet rays into beneficial light! The secret of how this type of stained glass was created was never ever revealed or duplicated.
One large rose window, westward from the nave, was built above 3 lancets. This window depicts a sun and a rose, symbolizing Jesus the Christ as “the new sun” and Mary Tamar (his mother) as “a rose without thorns”.
Yet another most interesting aspect of Chartres Cathedral is the crypt and its contents. Chartres is said to contain the tunic worn by Mary Tamar at the birth of Jesus the Christ! The tunic is said to have survived the fire of 1194 while remaining in the crypt.
Here are some other interesting statistics pertaining to Chartres Cathedral:
And so it is that the current Chartres Cathedral began to take shape in 1194 and was fully roofed in 1220. Interestingly, the Knights Templar also used Gothic architecture to build other Notre-Dame Cathedrals in the course of time, from the middle of the 12th century up until the early 13th century. Such cathedrals include those in Paris, Reims, and Amiens. Construction began in Paris in the year 1163, while construction in Reims and Amiens began in 1211 and 1221, respectively.
Hence, one can easily see why Notre-Dame-de-Chartres is such a unique & sacred place.
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