Paris - Ile De France Section

Sainte Chapelle - Palais de Justice - Paris

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Sainte Chapelle, King Saint-Louis' private chapel

The Sainte Chapelle is considered a masterpiece of pure Gothic architecture and is one of Paris' most visited monuments.

It is located in courtyard of the Palais de Justice, the former palace of the kings of France on the Ile de la Cité.

In 1246, king Louis IX commissioned Pierre de Montreuil with the construction of the chapel to showcase the True Crown of Thorns he had bought from Baldwin II of Constantinople.

Erected on the site of the Chapelle Saint-Nicolas-du Palais, it was consecrated on April 25, 1248.

The Sainte Chapelle is in fact a set of two chapels, Chapelle Basse (Lower Chapel) and Chapelle Haute (Upper Chapel).

The Chapelle Haute was Saint-Louis's private chapel and was directly linked to his apartments.

The Chapelle Basse, which is dedicated to Notre-Dame, was the palace staff's parish church.

Sainte Chapelle, a fine illustration of Gothic architecture

The Sainte Chapelle boasts a wealth of architectural and ornamental features that turn it into one of the finest illustrations of Gothic architecture.

Its proportions are simply amazing as its length is approximately equal to its height.

Its spire, which peaks 75m above ground level, was rebuilt in 1853 by the architect Lassus and is a faithful replica of the 15th century one.

The fire that destroyed part of the Palais de Justice in 1776 unfortunately damaged the northern side of the chapel.

However, the building escaped demolition at the French Revolution because it was converted into a depot of archives!

A few decades later, Napoleon III commissioned the architects Duban, Lassus, Viollet-le-Duc and Boeswillwald for its restoration.

The Sainte Chapelle was fortunately listed Historical Monument in 1867.

Chapelle Haute - Stained glass windows

Two spiral staircases that frame the Chapelle Basse main altar led up to the Chapelle Haute which known worldwide for its gigantic 15m high by 4.50m wide stained glass windows.

These amazingly combined lightness and weightlessness, as well as strength and balance of structure!

How such a building survived the centuries is an architectural miracle!.

The Sainte Chapelle therefore boasts the most complete and outstanding collections of 13th century stained glass! Most indeed survived despite the degradation they endured during the French Revolution!

The windows were restored during the 19th century, however, two thirds of them are still original!

They have also retained all the brilliance and deep colours despite their age.

They are undoubtedly the finest illustration of medieval stained glass art.

Some windows of the eastern apse represent scenes from the New Testament; those of the nave feature scenes from the Old Testament.

They showcase the golden shrine, which is a replica of the original that contained the True Crown of Thorns.

Sadly, the original casket and all the religious metal objects were melted at the Revolution.

The two chapels are adorned with lavish murals, columns and sculptures that boast intricate details and patterns.

Tip: Buy a dual ticket Sainte Chapelle-Conciergerie next door, as you'll get a discount and on line to skip the long queues, especially during peak season.

Directions: 1st District - Boulevard du Palais
Metro: Cité on Line 4
Coordinates: Lat 48.855048 - Long 2.345479

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