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2020-08-21 12:12:21

Chartres Cathedral: the Black Maiden and the Lost Recipes

Chartres Cathedral: the Black Maiden and the Lost Recipes

The city of Chartres in the Loire Valley region is mentioned in guidebooks not only as a perfectly preserved example of medieval and Renaissance architecture, but also associated with many mysterious pages of French history, and sometimes even with mystical phenomena. Chartres Cathedral, towering over the city with 2 grandiose Gothic spiers, has concentrated almost half of all the wonders and wonders attributed to the city. He is called “the lord of all cathedrals”, “the temple of the golden section” and “the Bible in glass”. Notre-Dame-de-Chartres Cathedral is active and annually attracts more than a million tourists from different countries under its arches.

Location and construction history

Notre-Dame-de-Chartres rises next to the Old Town of Chartres, the administrative center of the Ayr-et-Loire department, about 100 km southwest of Paris. Historians believe that at least five temples existed on the site of the present building in different eras, the first of which still belonged to the Druids. In 876, a unique artifact - the Protection of the Mother of God - got into the walls of the temple for preservation. The presence of such a relic in the temple entailed the reconstruction of the building and the strengthening of its authority in the Christian world.

A series of fires destroyed Sharts Cathedral with enviable regularity, but the legendary cover remained unharmed each time. In 1194, it was decided to announce a fundraiser for a thorough reconstruction of the temple, and in 1220, in the presence of the monarch, the highest temple in Europe at that time was solemnly consecrated, which has come down to us practically unchanged. Many architects recognize the proportions of the temple as ideal, while theologians suggest that it was built on the "place of power" of Europe.


Architecture of the Temple of Notre-Dame-de-Chartres

Chartres Cathedral can be attributed to the classics of the Gothic: a Latin cross at the base, 2 symmetrical cone-shaped towers, a monumental facade replete with decor, statues and bas-reliefs with biblical subjects. Sculptural images of the XIII century, especially richly adorn the western part of the building from the side of the Royal Portal. A feature of the northern pediment is an indispensable attribute of Gothic cathedrals - a canonical rose window. The lancet-arched windows and the dome are decorated with stained-glass windows: their subjects, according to the researchers, are full of symbolic images and encrypted messages, and the recipe for the “Chartres blue” used in their manufacture has been completely lost.

When viewing Notre-Dame-de-Chartres from the southern portals, you can admire another curiosity - the astronomical clock of the 16th century, by which it was possible to determine the date, time and phases of the moon. In 1793, the mechanism of the watch was damaged, and since then they have been simply part of the decor. Like any Gothic temple, Chartres Cathedral has several portals, decorated in a special style and at different times. Three of them also adorned the predecessor temple and were integrated into the architectural ensemble of Notre-Dame-de-Chartres:

  • North - the decor of the portal conveys scenes from the Old Testament
  • Southern - decorated with scenes of the New Testament and the Last Judgment
  • Western, or Royal - tells about the life of the Mother of God and the Savior. On the central tympanum there is a composition "Christ in glory".

Treasure of Chartres Cathedral and the Black Maiden

Under the central nave and choirs, you can see the oldest crypt in France with the "well of the martyrs" and a statue made of almost black wood of a woman and a child sitting on a throne. Some scholars agree that the Black Maiden, as she is commonly called, appeared in the pre-Christian era.

The main relic of the basilica - the Hematium of the Mother of God, placed in an old reliquary - is displayed for worship in the Holy Heart of Mary, a chapel in the northern part of the cathedral. Hematium is a beige silk fabric, presumably in the form of a cape on the Mother of God at the time of the birth of Jesus.

In honor of the Virgin Mary, the cathedral was officially named after Notre Dame de Chartres, or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. Since 1979 it has been included in the UNESCO Lists as a specially protected object of world importance.

The object belongs to the temples.

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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