Paradox of Chartres Cathedral | Theory Of Irony

Originally posted on Theory Of Irony

More than 1600 years before all the New York City skyscrapers, the matt-haired and rag-draped farmers of northern France built a simple wooden church – which, burned down.  The good people, faithful and diligent though they were, replaced it with another, which burned down, and another, which burned down, and yet another – which also, burned down.  The year now 1144, they rebuilt with stone, working on a Romanesque design, with towers of such height and sculptures of such beauty as had never, on completion in 1164, been seen before.  It too, largely burned down, but this time the towers, the front façade and the crypt survived. So, starting on these foundations in 1194, the locals rebuilt again using a new Gothic style of architecture.  To this end an army of illiterate peasants descended from all over France, joined by the equally illiterate nobility and they volunteered for work crews en-masse.  Stories exist of the whole lot hitching themselves up to carts like farm animals in order to haul supplies and stones from a distant quarry.  With a spirit and humility lacking translation, they put up a new Cathedral in near-record time and it was basically completed by 1220.

The various fields of science, often unfairly cast as the bane of religion, saw advancements which now allowed for better Church construction. Architects started with soaring, pointed arches where low, semi-circular ones had in the past supported the laborious weight of stone. To these arches, the architects slapped on a system of “flying buttresses,” sort of external supports which distributed horizontal loads away from the sides and downward to the ground. Builders, consequently blessed with higher and thinner walls, questioned, “What could be done with all the new wall space?” They were answered with stained glass windows, which conveyed…

via Paradox of Chartres Cathedral | Theory Of Irony.

5 thoughts on “Paradox of Chartres Cathedral | Theory Of Irony

  1. I went to Chartres as a teenager, and recall the cathedral being impressive. But my mind was clogged with youthful thoughts, and modern ideas. I should have returned as an adult, when the full impact of this architectural marvel would have been better appreciated by a wiser head.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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