Chartres’ beautiful medieval old city is northeast and east of the cathedral. Highlights include the 12th-century Collégiale St-André, a Romanesque church that’s now an exhibition centre; rue de la Tannerie and its extension rue de la Foulerie, lined with flower gardens, mill-races and the restored remnants of riverside trades: wash houses, tanneries and the like; and rue des Écuyers, with many structures dating from around the 16th century.
The most venerated object in Chartres' cathedral is the Sainte Voile, the ‘Holy Veil’ said to have been worn by the Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Jesus. It originally formed part of the imperial treasury of Constantinople but was offered to Charlemagne by the Empress Irene when the Holy Roman Emperor proposed marriage to her in 802. Charles the Bald presented it to the town in 876; the cathedral was built because the veil survived the 1194 fire.