Terracotta Angel, c.1896
Watts Chapel, England

 Photo : Jeff Saward/Labyrinthos

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Undoubtedly the best known labyrinth of its type, the beautifully preserved pavement labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, France, was constructed during the second decade of the 13th century. The labyrinth is 12.9 metres (42.3 ft.) in diameter and fills the width of the nave. While much has been written about the purpose of this labyrinth, little contemporary documentation survives, although it is known that labyrinths in the French cathedrals were the scene of Easter dances carried out by the clergy. It is also popularly assumed that they symbolise the long tortuous path that pilgrims would have followed to visit this, and other shrines and cathedrals, during the medieval period.

Looking for photographs of other church and cathedral labyrinths elsewhere in Europe? We have a separate page of images of these labyrinths - click here to see some of our collection.

We also have graphics and line illustrations of various church and cathedral labyrinths available - click here to see some of our collection.

All of the images on this page (and many more besides!) are available in high resolution digital formats for licensed reproduction. For details of reproduction fees and permission procedures, send us an e-mail with details of your planned usage and format requirements.

The Labyrinth from the organ loft

Photo : Jeff Saward/Labyrinthos

The Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth

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Current interest ensures that this labyrinth continues to receive visits from pilgrims to this day, although many are surprised to find the labyrinth often covered with chairs. At the moment, the labyrinth is usually uncovered on Fridays, during the summer months only.

Below are a selection of photos of the labyrinth and some additional shots of the Cathedral.