Notre-Dame de Chartres Cathedral, located in the CentreVal-de-Loire region in France, is one of the most authentic and complete works of religious architecture of the early 13th century.
It was the destination of a pilgrimage dedicated to the Virgin Mary, among the most popular in all medieval Western Christianity. Because of the unity of its architecture and decoration, the result of research of the first Gothic era, its immense influence on the art of Middle Age Christianity, Chartres Cathedral appears as an essential landmark in the history of medieval architecture.
The outstanding stained-glass ensemble, monumental statuary of the 12th and 13th centuries and the painted decorations miraculously preserved from the ravages of humankind and time, make Chartres one of the most admirable and the best-preserved examples of Gothic art.
The west façade built around the middle of the 12th century, with its three portals whose splays are decorated with statue columns (Royal Portail), its two towers, its southern spire and its three large incomparable stained-glass windows, comprise an authentic and complete example that remains with us of this art created at St Denis, and which marked the advent of an original mode of plastic expression, known as the Gothic style.
A little later, the nave and the choir, reconstructed as of 1194, effected for the first time an architectural formula which would be widely employed throughout the 13th century.
The monumental sculptures of Chartres Cathedral are valued both for their abundance and for their quality.