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Chartres at Night

July 20, 2013


We arrived in town tired from a day of travel, so we headed to a café in the shadow of the great Cathedral for a late dinner. We knew that they made an effort to bathe the 13th century behemoth in light, and thought we could take an after meal stroll and enjoy the decoration. We had no idea what we were in for.

First of all, they do not simply bathe the Cathedral in light. They instead project an entire light show on the building’s façade, using its architectural dimension and design as a rich palette for the colors. Part performance art, part animation, part spiritual celebration, it is unlike any light show I have ever seen.

As you watch, the building transforms and blends into a kaleidoscope of hues, then shifts to three-dimensional calligraphic excerpts from scripture, to animated dancers “building” the cathedral before your very eyes. It is also synched to a gentle yet uplifting soundtrack comprised of electronic keyboard, harp, and gorgeous soprano singing. Hundreds of us stood there transfixed as the Cathedral—already regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world—transformed into something even more miraculous.

And we haven’t even yet been inside.

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