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The town is best known for the Cathedral of Chartres widely considered to be the finest gothic cathedral in France. Its historical and cultural importance is recognized by its inclusion on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Chartres is built on the left bank of the Eure River, on a hill crowned by its famous cathedral, the spires of which are a landmark in the surrounding country. To the south-east stretches the fruitful plain of Beauce, the "granary of France", of which the town is the commercial centre.
It was burnt by the Normans in 858, and unsuccessfully besieged by them in 911. In 1417 it fell into the hands of the English, from whom it was recovered in 1432. It became seat of a Duchy in 1528. During the Wars of Religion, it was attacked unsuccessfully by the Protestants in 1568, and was taken in 1591 by Henry IV, who was crowned there three years afterwards. In the Franco-Prussian War it was seized by the Germans on October 2, 1870, and continued during the rest of the Campaign an important centre of operations. The city suffered heavy damage by bombing in the course of World War II.
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