Capital of Beauce, Chartres is renowned for its religious building, UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Notre-Dame cathedral. Placed on a promontory overlooking the River Eure, the cathedral of Chartres constitutes a real masterpiece of the Gothic art. This pilgrimage Mecca, admirably preserved and presenting a beautiful architectural homogeneity due to the speed of its construction, is among the biggest Gothic cathedrals in France. Its facades decorated with thousands of sculptures, and especially its Royal Portal, are outstanding. The cathedral interior is just as stunning. It features remarkable 12th- and 13th-century stained glass windows as well as a magnificent choir screen.
After visiting the cathedral and its crypt, walkers can admire numerous old residences in the old town, such as the 16th-century Saumon house, the Voûte house, and the houses in the rue des Écuyers for example. A stroll in the former tanners district along the River Eure lined with bridges should not be missed either. From there, beautiful view of the Saint-André church, a Romanesque building that today houses an exhibition centre. Having climbed the picturesque Saint-Nicolas hillock nearby, visitors can discover the beautiful terraced gardens of the former bishop's palace, which dominates the banks of the River Eure. In the ancient pope's palace, the Fine art museum houses collections of paintings, sculptures, art works and archaeological objects...
Not far from the cathedral too, the International Stained Glass Centre is housed in the attic and the cellar of Loëns. It is dedicated to the art of stained glass window-making (different production techniques and stages, stained glass window restoration, etc.). Besides a permanent exhibition of ancient stained glass windows, the centre shows work by contemporary artists.
Every evening from nightfall, from April to September, Chartres' heritage treasures are lit with stunning illuminations that give the city a magical feel, culminating in the Festival of Light in September.