Thursday, 11 June 2009

SACRED GEOMETRY: Chartres Cathedral

There have been many attempts to intepret the sacred geometry of Chartres. John James applies a series of geometrical figures to the plan. He explains that the Middle Ages gloried in multiplicity as part of the divine order, and "hence we should not be surprised when we find more than one geometric system inhabiting the one place, each flowing over the other, while being locked together at a few essential points like the labyrinth and the altar, which tehreby express the mosts acred and meaningful locations in the building."

Some interpreters go much further and relate the proportions and dimensions of the cathedral to what they regard as the "lost knowledge" of the Druids, the builders of the Temple of Solomon and the Order of the Knights Templar.

The basis of the design in the early Middle Ages was the application of a standard dimension or module, multiplying, sub-dividing and combining it. The unit of measurement, however, varied from place to place, from trade to trade and from one master builder to another. The basic dimensions was often the Roman foot (295 mm) but could be the Teuton foot or the French pied du roi, or the pes manualis, or foot-and-hand which was six-fifths of the Roman foot. Several of these modules were used by the various masters of Chartres. Added to this variety, there were several different systems of proportion in the Gothic period. John Harvey explains that "the two main systems were known as ad quadratum, based upon a square, and ad triangulum based on the equilateral triangle. Applied to the cross-section of a church, the system ad triangulum naturally resulted in a lower, more squat proportion of height and width."

Small wonder that the unravelling of the immensely complex geometry of a building like Chartres is the labour of a lifetime.


  1. Bien lo dice el texto, la matemática sirvió por mucho tiempo a fines específicos.
    Validar el Sagrado Orden Universal !
    y por ende la posición que ocuparía cada uno, como un punto en ese orden .

    De todos modos como no(¿?) rendirse ante tal obra !

    Anita Inés Lenzo

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Geometría sagrada y numerología como los pitagóricos...
    3 trinidad sacra, Dios, hijo espíritu santo,tres virtudes teologales: fe, esperanza y caridad.
    !2 meses-12 apóstoles.etc.
    Recuerdo un gif que me pusiste con la planta laberíntica que lleva hasta la flor de cuatro pétalos, que seguro que tiene un significado...
    Las catedrales verdaderas biblias en piedra, llenas de simbolos para los fieles que no sabían leer.... Read more
    Gótico ... por definirlo con síntexis, verticalidad, de ahí sus
    agujas que se elevan al cielo.
    Muchas gracias Dani, me ha encantado la entrada del blog.

    Paloma Blázquez Crespo.

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