Entering Chartres Cathedral Through the Central Portal
In the town of Chartres about 50 miles southwest of Paris, is where the Chartres Cathedral is located and can be seen for miles as it is the tallest structure and was built on the highest point of the town. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres is its formal name but since the majority of the French Cathedrals were dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to avoid confusion the cathedrals are referred to the town to which they belong. The Chartres Cathedral has portals on the northern, southern, and western sides of the building. Each of the Portals has three enormous doors that are surrounded by sculptures depicting scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary as well as a Colossal Rose Window, which is above the doors. The Western Portal also called the Royal Portal is the oldest part of the church and mostly built in the Romanesque Style that was a precursor of Gothic. After a fire in The southern transept portals’ sculptures are of the New Testament and depict scenes from the Last Judgment while the Rose Window is a stain glass masterpiece of The Glorification of Christ. As you approach the central door, you are greeted by a statue of Jesus holding a book in one hand and appearing to be giving a blessing with his other, as his Disciples flank him on both sides of the jamb. The statue of Jesus is on the trumeau which is a column supporting a tympanum of a doorway at its center. Once through the door you are in the southern transept. This section of the cathedral is an arm of the Latin Cross that is the floor plan of all cathedrals. Just ahead is the Crossing, to your left is a side aisle of the nave, and to your right are the double aisles that lead to the area that is the back area of the Apse. The Apse is a rounded end (semi-circle) of a cathedral, church, or building that demonstrates its importance. Chartres Cathedral was constructed with double aisles to accommodate the large number of pilgrims who visited daily and...
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