Chartres Cathedral - Table of Contents  ..........   France - Table of Contents

West elevation - Chartres Cathedral
Chartres, France
Photographs taken in February 2012.





The only aspect detracting from Chartres Cathedral's elegant symmetry are the mismatched west spires.
The left north spire is a 377-foot (113m) early 16th-century Flamboyant Gothic spire on top of an older tower.
The right south spire is a 349-foot (105m) plain Romanesque pyramid dating from the 1140s,



The left north spire is a 377-foot (113m) early 16th-century Flamboyant Gothic spire on top of an older tower.




The right south spire is a 349-foot (105m) plain Romanesque pyramid dating from the 1140s,



Pinnacles topped with finials



Pointed Gothic arches. Note gargoyles.





Center bay

North transept rose window features multifoil motif  ..... Plate tracery

Royal Portals (Portail Royale)


Royal Portals: These portals are the major monument of Early Gothic sculpture. They are clearly based on the now fragmentary portals of St. Denis.

One of the few elements to survive from the mid-12th century church, the Portail Royale was integrated into the new cathedral built after the 1194 fire. Opening onto the parvis (the large square in front of the cathedral where markets were held), the two lateral doors would have been the first entry point for most visitors to Chartres, as it remains today. The central door was only opened for the entry of processions on major festivals, of which the most important was the Adventus or installation of a new bishop.



Left tympanum.

"The left portal is more enigmatic and art historians still argue over the correct identification. The tympanum shows Christ standing on a cloud, apparently supported by two angels. Some see this as a depiction of the Ascension of Christ (in which case the figures on the lower lintel would represent the disciples witnessing the event) while others see it as representing the Parousia, or Second Coming of Christ (in which case the lintel figures could be either the prophets who foresaw that event or else the 'Men of Galilee' mentioned in Acts 1:9-11). The presence of angels in the upper lintel, descending from a cloud and apparently shouting to those below, would seem to support the latter interpretation. " - Wikipedia (April 2012)

The archivolts contain the signs of the zodiac and the labours of the months - standard references to the cyclical nature of time which appear in many Gothic portals.


Center tympanum.
The central portal is a more conventional representation of the End of Time as described in the Book of Revelation. In the centre of the tympanum is Christ within a mandorla, surrounded by the four symbols of the evangelists (the Tetramorph). The lintel shows the Twelve Apostles while the archivolts show the 24 Elders of the Apocalypse.



  Jamb statues.
Tall, slender standing figures of kings and queens from whom the Portail Royale derived its name. They almost certainly represent the kings and queens of the Old Testament .












Photos and their arrangement 2012 Chuck LaChiusa
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