The Destruction of Chartres Cathedral

December 24, 2014 1:16 AM

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As the world hurtles towards a bloodless digital future of flickering electronic screens and virtual experiences, certain places of primal architectural power become ever more valuable as anchors of the past. Chartres Cathedral is one of the most important of these sacred places, however its interior is in mortal danger of dissolving into a pale, kitsch version of its former sublime self. In the name of a "restoration" to what is claimed to be the original 13th century interior, the gray stones are literally being painted in white lime wash and beige paint with faux stone joint lines; erasing all traces of the past. This is cultural vandalism of the lowest order, on par with the Taliban's demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001.

Last month after an absence of 25 years, I was looking forward to a return to Chartres, fully expecting the magnificent, dark, cavernous interior, illuminated by the jewel like glow of the original stained glass. The effect, like the "lumiere mysterieuse" of the interiors of Sir John Soane, was to r...

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