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Chartres, virtually
March 22, 2009 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Chartres: Cathedral of Notre-Dame offers photographs, diagrams, antique prints, and maps of Chartres Cathedral. And that's not the only virtual Chartres site: there's a tour courtesy of San Jose SU and a more elaborate tour (requires Quicktime) offered by the Art History department at Ithaca College. Among other things, Great Buildings features some 3D models (additional, albeit free, software required to view). Speaking of virtual experiences, you can walk the Chartres labyrinth (see here for a more technical description). And don't forget video, including this National Geographic short on the cathedral's architecture; you can also listen to the bells.
posted by thomas j wise (11 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Been there!! The sky was grey as I walked up, and the organ was playing. I thought there might be a church service going on. I tentatively peeked my head in the door, and stepped inside. I immediately started smiling, because it was the most wicked awesome gothic music playing. Dun dun dun dunnnnnnn!! It was dark. I proceeded down the aisle towards the floor maze. I walked along the maze, with the other tourists, as the totally gothic organ music was playing. Man, I've been to a lot of cathedrals, but Chartres makes it feel like the first time.
posted by metastability at 5:25 PM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Alors, may i suggest this song as an accompaniment to this post?
posted by metastability at 6:05 PM on March 22, 2009


When I was in Paris, a French professor told me that there had once been an impressive brass plaque of a minotaur at the center of the labyrinth - but that local soldiers melted it down during a time of war to use the metal for weapons. Quelle dommage!
posted by ninotchka at 6:13 PM on March 22, 2009


Here's a pretty thorough walkthrough of all the insane alchemical renderings going on in the stained glass and other works throughout the building. Latter day so-caleld alchemists like R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz were convinced that the stained glass was tinted by means of a alchemical transformation of substances. Esoteric theories also abound about the role of the cathedral, and the experiences it is supposedly designed to create in so-called initiates, while still operating at an exoteric level as a part of the church.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:58 PM on March 22, 2009


I had a great time there on my honeymoon, but they had benches set up on the labyrinth so we couldn't do the crawl in lieu of making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Great, a trip to the Mid East.... just what I need.
posted by drinkmaildave at 7:09 PM on March 22, 2009


If you ever find yourself in Paris, Chartres is a lovely town and just an hour away by train. Great place for an overnight.

If you find yourself in Chartres, try to get one of the English language tours of the cathedral from Malcolm Miller, one of the famous stops on the anglophone tour of France. He's a great tour guide, a very generous and knowledgable explanation of the cathedral and its fantastic 12th century stained glass. His book on the glass was a true revelation for me, an explanation of the stories behind all those wacky, incredibly detailed glass panels. I learned a lot from him, both his book and his tour. It's one of my favourite places in France now.
posted by Nelson at 8:20 PM on March 22, 2009


"...this rich stone forest, this epic chant, this gaiety, this grand choiring shout of affirmation - which we choose, when all our cities are dust, to stand intact, to mark where we have been, to testify to what we had it in us to accomplish."
posted by inqb8tr at 11:07 PM on March 22, 2009


The Blue Guide's entry on Chartres still captivates me. It recommended Malcolm Miller's tours back then, and this was in the mid-1980s.
posted by holgate at 11:54 PM on March 22, 2009


In our old house, my sweetie and I did up a glass mosaic (modified - I think it was the 4 or 6 circuit design) labyrinth in our entryway, provided in stencil form by the Labyrinth Company, which was based in Baltimore but seems to have moved to Connecticut.

Anyhow, they helped design a couple more in my old stomping grounds. These are walkable. It's quite a meditative journey.

You can find a labyrinth in your neck of the woods (possibly) with the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator.
posted by kalessin at 5:45 AM on March 23, 2009


I'm in the middle of The Pillars of the Earth, and I've been wishing that I was better able to visualize the architectural descriptions. This should help :)
posted by diogenes at 8:18 AM on March 23, 2009


I was in Chartres once. The sun was shinning its little heart out, and the blues in the windows were amazing. Simply amazing. No photograph could do it justice.
posted by sandraregina at 9:21 AM on March 23, 2009


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