World heritage

Solemn World of Light: Chartres Cathedral. ©NHK 1970
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Solemn World of Light: Chartres Cathedral

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Language(s): English

Summary/Historical Context

(Narration Text)
Chartres Cathedral is located south west of Paris. The building has four wings pointing directly North, South, East and West. Each wing represents the passage of time, from the past to the future. The front façade is located on the west wing.

The west is where the sun sets and represents the apocalypse: "The Last Judgment". The combination of light and stained glass portrays the apocalypse as described in the bible.

The north wing represents times past. There are images of the Virgin Mary and the prophets of the Old Testament.

The south is the contemporary world. Jesus Christ is in the centre surrounded by stories from the New Testament. This is the renowned "Blue Virgin window". The mystical blue of the Madonna's tunic is known as Chartres Blue.

Special devices support the high pointed arches of the ceilings and large windows. Flying buttresses are a unique feature of Gothic architecture. These reinforce the building from the outside. Such engineering made it possible for the structure to support high ceilings and huge windows.

Here, the fall of Adam and Eve. The next sequence is the story of Noah's Ark. Noah receives a revelation from God and with his sons builds an ark. Animals gather around. 800 years of history has taken its toll. There are stains and damages to repair. Craftsmen in this workshop have been restoring stained glasses for the past two centuries. Each piece of glass is carefully removed and an old plan is used to match it with the original layout. Damaged glass is replaced with material close to the original. The Chartres Cathedral is a museum to stained glass. It is hoped that this extraordinary heritage will be protected long into the future. (World Heritage)

Place/Country: France
Series: NHK World Heritage 100
Type: Documentary
Credits: NHK, producer. UNESCO WHC, co-producer ; UNESCO TV, co-producer.

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