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Chartres Cathedral
Virtual Tour of Chartres Cathedral

Photos may not do them justice, but you can take a virtual tour of Chartres Cathedral and view its splendid stained glass windows online. Many depict Bible stories designed for congregations who were largely illiterate [source: Ithaca University].

Probably the quintessential Gothic cathedral, Chartres Cathedral was constructed between 1195 and 1220 in the French high Gothic style out of imposing stone and glass on the site of an older cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. One surviving relic of the old church was an exquisite piece of stained glass, the "Veil of the Virgin," which was thought to have been saved as an act of divine intervention.

In one great creative undertaking, the new church, also in honor of Mary, was erected in a little over two decades, quite an expensive and impressive accomplishment in a time when many churches were under construction for a century or more. Chartres Cathedral is renowned for its harmonious style, which is probably the result of a limited number of hands guiding its speedy completion.

Its stained glass windows are some of the most beautiful still in existence, having withstood the vagaries of time, war and fashion.

From the refined to the colossal, let's move on to the Great Wall of China.

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