Chartres Cathedral is in the midst of the most exhaustive renovation in its modern history





With more than half an acre of stained glass set in 175 windows, Chartres Cathedral is in the midst of the most exhaustive renovation in its modern history as millennial anniversary celebrations next year draw near.

16 of the cathedral's windows, including the most famous -- the Blue Virgin window depicting Mary and the child Jesus--have been restored. The artisans are now working on the glass of other churches while awaiting the chance to bid for work on seven windows that have been removed from above the cathedral's main altar and are undergoing scientific analysis.

After a fire destroyed most of an earlier cathedral on the site in 1194, the town built an even grander edifice in just under 30 years. Today, preservationists say, cleaning and restoring just the stained-glass windows is likely to take longer than that.

At a cost of nearly $200,000 for each of the largest and most intricate windows, the rehabilitation is constrained as much by finances as by the 18 months of analysis and delicate craftsmanship required to clean and repair each section.

The glass masters who cr



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