5. Chartres Labyrinth in Chartres


The labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral from about year 1200 is a circular labyrinth of flagstones in the floor. It is big and the lane pattern seems at the first view to be easy comprehensible and simple but it shows to be complicated and unpredictable as it is said in the book ”Alle tiders labyrinter”of Jørgen Thordrup, 2002. I have here drawn this 11 circle lane big labyrinth in the more flagstone adapted square form and this makes it even more difficult to grasp quickly.

But if the lane pattern is “straightened out” to a rectangular formed system figure as shown in the following figure in detail C the lane pattern will be ready for a more easy analysis.

Below I have shown in fig. C4 how the Chartres Labyrinth consists of a rather simple elementary figure and by which a number of bigger chartres labyrinths can be designed.



Symbols and units:

See the section on labyrinths in roma style.



Contents for figures:


Fig. C1: The Chartres Labyrinth and its system

Fig. C2: Lane walking

Fig. C3: Succession in 4 sections

Fig. C4: Chartres made of the elementary figure ch5


Tegning af Chartres Labyrinten i kvadratisk og rund form og dets system



Fig. C1: The Chartres Labyrinth  and its system

The Chartres Labyrinth in Chartres is here drawn in square form and circular form and shown in a system figure in detail C. See photo in fig. i4 in section 1. There is used the same line stroke and lane width as for other drawings of chartres and roma labyrinths on this website. (The labyrinth in the Chartres cathedral has more narrow intervals between the lanes which gives more beautiful tips of tongs). The Chartres Labyrinth is 11 lanes wide from the centre space to the outer edge. It consists of “tongs” that are 90° and 180° long, and of 2 radial line lanes at 0° from the outer edge to the centre space edge. In the quadrant lines 90°, 180°, and 270° there is a beautiful symmetry with alternately tong and line. By the 2 radial lines at 0° the symmetry is dislocated by one lane, so here the interesting experience is: “first look to the left, then look to the right” when walking the left radial lane as the start of the labyrinth and again when walking the right radial lane to finish the labyrinth.




Tegning af bane-gennemløb i kvadratisk Chartres




Fig. C2: Lane walking

The Chartres Labyrinth as square with the specification of the lane succession.

This is better seen on the following system figure:


Tegning af bane-gennemløb i system Chartres, og  4 bane-afdelinger i kvadratisk og rund Chartres


Fig. C3: Succession in 4 sections

The Chartres Labyrinth is walked, is traversed after turn in 4 sections.

Right from the start at the outer edge you walk straight towards the centre along a radial lane (like in the roma labyrinth) and after a small trip out into a 90° tong halfway you walk right up to the edge of the centre space. The labyrinth is then walked after turn in 4 sections of 180° as shown approximately on the circle in detail C and shown precisely in detail A and B. First the 2 inner areas are walked and then the 2 bigger outer areas, and at the end you are led from the outer edge lane directly to the goal in centre, except again for a small walk out into a 90° tong. (This long walk can in the Chartres Cathedral have been a pilgrim walk on your knees to the special holy centre area).


You can maybe see the Chartres lane walk animated on this website from Hawai.


The Chartres Labyrinth is unsurpassed interesting and beautiful with its tong symmetries at the quadrant lines 90°, 180°, and 270°. Maybe the symmetry at 0° will be questioned then with the 2 radial lanes here. These 2 radial lanes do both need halfway to have a small turn out into a solitude tong for the completeness of the labyrinth (see fig. C4), but this is probably only an extra interesting feature to this beautiful classic labyrinth.


The Chartres Labyrinth is the basis for a whole system of chartres labyrinths and I have on this website included e.g. a chartres model with only 8 lanes in fig. ch6 (ch8E) and only 1 radial lane which also has symmetry at the 3 quadrant lines with alternately a tong and a line. Besides that it is identical at 90° and 270°, and has tong symmetry also at 0°.


Tegning af system Chartres "klippet" op i 3 dele til analyse



Fig. C4: Chartres made of the elementary figure ch5

In section 6 with labyrinths of chartres style there is shown some elementary systems to chartres labyrinths in fig. ch1. ch5R2 is used to make up the real Chartres Labyrinth as shown here:

ch5R2 in detail A has it upper half twisted to ch5R2T in B. In C we have the Chartres lane pattern from fig. C3 above, which is divided into 3 parts E, H and J. By this it is seen that the Chartres Labyrinth is made of ch5R2T changed to ch5R2E in L and N together with 2 solitude tongs on the radial lanes as in P and R.

From ch5R2T we also get the internal part ch5R2M shown in detail M. By this a variable big chartres labyrinth can be made of the 2 “end pieces” L and N + some “internal pieces” M, e.g. as shown in S: a chartres 29 with 3 internal pieces so that n = 5. In all “intervals” a radial lane tong P and R must then be inserted, here a total of 4 on the start lane + 4 on the finish lane. Like the real Chartres Labyrinth this labyrinth has the beautiful symmetry with alternately tong line tong line in the quadrant lines 90°, 180°, 270°.

The real Chartres Labyrinth consists of only the 2 end pieces L and N without any internal piece, i.e. n = 2 which gives 2 x 6 - 1 = ch11.




Contents of the other sections:


0    Labyrinths, summary

1    Labyrinths, introduction

2    Troja labyrinths

3    Roma-Piadena Labyrinth

4    Labyrinths of roma style

6    Labyrinths of chartres style

7    Comparing labyrinth-examples