MATH ITINERARIES: Chartres Cathedral

Harmony of the Spheres: (The Geometry of Music)

In Chartres Cathedral, and many other medieval buildings, these harmonic ratios were translated into the architecture of the magnificent structures. It appears that not only do these ratios define the sounds we find pleasing but also the physical proportions of beauty. The architecture of Chartres Cathedral has been described as ‘frozen music’ on account of the large number of musical proportions embodied into the design. It became one of the most important French pilgrimage sites, and was built at the same time (11th – 13th centuries) as several other immense gothic cathedrals in Europe, incorporating sacred geometry and harmonic proportions in their quest to bring mankind closer to god.

Chartres Cathedral
Partly built starting in 1145, and then reconstructed over a 26-year period after the fire of 1194, Chartres Cathedral marks the high point of French Gothic art. The vast nave, in pure ogival style, the porches adorned with fine sculptures from the middle of the 12th century, and the magnificent 12th- and 13th-century stained-glass windows, all in remarkable condition, combine to make it a masterpiece.


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