Chartres, a city of France, capital of the department of Eure-et-Loire, 45 m. S. W. of Paris; pop. in 1860, 19,442. It is situated on the railroad running S. W. from Paris, and is built on a slope at the bottom of which runs the river Eure, which divides the town into two parts, connected by a bridge planned by Vauban. Upon the site of the former fortifications are fine boulevards, and some of the modern buildings are well built; but the general appearance of the city is not prepossessing, most of the streets being narrow and crooked. The great object of interest is the cathedral of Notre Dame, commenced about 1020, and dedicated in 12G0, though one of the spires was not finished till the 16th century. The principal front presents two square towers surmounted by two lofty octagonal pyramids. The old spire, of plain architecture, but cased with stone carved like the scales of a fish, is 374 ft. high. The new spire is 413 ft. high, built in the florid style. The rich portals, the painted glass windows, the beautiful choir adorned with valuable works of art, and other remarkable features, combine to make this church one of the most magnificent in the world. It was covered with an iron roof in 1841, the old framework having been burned some years before.
There are several other churches in Chartres, and among the public buildings and institutions are the residence of the prefect, three hospitals, a fine botanical garden, a museum, a library of 30,000 volumes, a departmental college and a normal school, a theatre, an agricultural society, and a charitable institution established by Dr. Aligre, whose name it bears, with accommodations for 200 aged poor and for 100 poor children. The town carries on an active trade in the products of the country, has an important wool market, and manufactories of woollen goods, hosiery, leather, and machinery. It derives its chief commercial importance from its corn market, which is the best regulated in France, and the management of whose business is intrusted to a corporation of women. - In antiquity Chartres bore the name of Autricum, hut was also known as Carnutum Civitas, being the chief town of the Carnutes. In the middle ages it was the capital of the territory of Beauce, and gave its name to a county, which Francis I. raised to the dignity of a duchy.
Cathedral of Chartres.