Sainte Chapelle – the Holy Chapel
What do you think is there any part in Paris that is not interesting? I think, no. Every corner of the City of Lights is truly blessed with something marvelous and awe-inspiring, be it the one-of-its-kind Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rough, the enchanting Luxembourg Gardens, the magnificent Sacre Coeur and other Paris attractions that over the years have dazzled and continue to entice more and more visitors from all over the world. Sainte Chapelle is no exception and if it is on your list of places to visit, make sure to put it close to the top as it’s definitely worth a visit.
One of Paris’ jewels and medieval architectural marvels, the Sainte Chapelle is a perfect getaway on a sunny day! Erected by King Louis IX as a chapel for the royal palace, it’s a superb example of the Gothic rayonnet style, boasting 15 unique stained glass floor-to-ceiling windows (6,458 sq. ft) rendering the air iridescent with light and color that symbolize the Heavenly Jerusalem; over a thousand stained glass paintings depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as elegant proportions and spectacularly painted columns and panels that survived the bombings of the World War II.
Certainly not known as the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame de Paris, the Sainte Chapelle (translated into the ‘Holy Chapel’) is located within the Palais de Justice on the Ile de la Cité, very close to Notre Dame Cathedral. The construction of the building began in 1246 (though it was planned in 1241) and was completed and consecrated in 1248, costing 40,000 livres. No designer is directly mentioned in the archives but the name of Pierre de Montreuil (who had rebuilt the apse of the Abbey of Saint Denis and completed the façade of Notre Dame) has been historically connected with the chapel. During the French Revolution, the chapel became an administrative office. In the 19thc century, Viollet le Duc restored the chapel to its present state, adding the new 74 meters high spire.
The church is 36 m long, 17 m wide and 42.5 m high and is made up of two chapels: the Higher (‘chapelle haute’) for the Royal Family and the Lower (‘chapelle basse’) for the servants of the King. The lower chapel is rather plain and is dedicated to Virgin Mary, while the upper level is where the relics were kept. The entrance to the lower chapel is located under a porch. Nearby is the Conciergerie accessible on a combined ticket with Sainte Chapelle.
Sainte Chapelle was listed as a Historical Monument in 1853. It’s open daily from 9:30am to 6:00pm March through October, and from 9:00am to 5:00pm for the rest of the year. It’s closed Monday-Friday from 1:00pm to 2:15pm and on December 25. The entrance fee is 8 euros for adults and free for those under 18 years of age.
Access to the chapel is controlled by the gendarmerie and it’s strictly forbidden to enter it with the possession of metal objects like knives, scissors and any other sharp metal instrument. To avoid waiting killer lines, plan your visit for a weekday morning and on a sunny day to fully appreciate the magical effect of the light that penetrates from all that beautiful stained glass.