The Chartres Cathedral, known in French as the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, is an incredibly well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage-listed cathedral from the 12th century. Considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, this historic church features heavy flying buttresses and imposing spires, as well as stained-glass windows that are considered the most complete and best preserved of their kind.
Religious pilgrims have long come from every corner of the globe to see the tunic that Catholics believe the Virgin Mary wore when she gave birth to Jesus. Others come to walk the famous labyrinth embedded in the floor of the cathedral, whether in prayerful meditation or simply as an interesting activity. And the wall of statues around the choir are not to be missed, especially since they have recently been restored to their original glory.
Whether before or after a tour of Chartres Cathedral, take the time to walk around its entire exterior. Each side of its façade could easily be the focal point of a lesser church. And don't forget to visit the town of Chartres as well, with its charming half-timbered homes and small medieval-era streets.