This is my nomination for the world's most beautiful concert venue, the 13th century Sainte Chapelle on the Ile de la Cité in the center of Paris.
On many evenings there are two one-hour concerts here, the first at 19:00 (7.00 pm) and the second at 20:30 (8.30 pm). I chose the first concert in hopes that there would still be ample sunlight shining through the amazing 13th century stained glass windows (which there was).
Tickets to these concerts cost 25 Euros each, plus 2.50 commission if you buy it ahead of time at the fnac store as I did. This is not cheap (you can see an entire opera in Paris for less than that), but well worth it to be able to sit for an hour in this fantastically beautiful Gothic building listening to brilliant music played by soloists from the leading French orchestras.
Second photo: The chamber music concert I attended at the Sainte Chapelle was by the Orchestre Les Archets de Paris, a chamber music ensemble that was founded in 1992, composed mainly of solo musicians from the National Orchestra of the Paris Opera or the National Orchestra of France. (Click on the link below to hear samples of their fine music.) Their program started with two short pieces by Vitali (1644?-1692) and J. Pachelbel (1653-1706), followed by the complete Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Third photo: Christophe Guiot, the conductor and violin soloist, came to the back of the chapel after the concert to sign CD booklets.
Fourth photo: Another advantage of attending an evening concert is that you can have a good look at the inside of the Sainte Chapelle without waiting in the long queue that tends to form during the day.
Unfortunately your Museum Pass will not speed up your entry to the Sainte Chapelle because there is only one line -- and a sign in French politely asking Museum Pass holders to se patienter in the same queue along with everybody else.
One of the most beautiful impression in Paris is Sainte Chapelle!
This chapel was constructed under the order of the Lui of the Ninth (Sacred) for storage of a relic of Passions Dominical - the Crown of thorns. King boughtthis relic in 1239 in Venice where it was brought from Constantinople. The chapel consists of two churches - bottom and top.
You can watch my 2 min 56 sec Video Paris Sainte Chapelle out of my Youtube channel.
Sainte-Chappell is just a short walk from Notre Dame. In my opinion it is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in europe. Let me give you an example. When I walked in my eyes were immediately drawn to the beautiful ceilings. I shuffled around for a few minutes looking up and then realized that this was just the gift shop! It gets better. A lot better.
If we would need to choose most beautyful church inside, this might be the one. We don´t usually go to so many churches as many people do, because we found them looking quite the same inside, and to us living in Lutherian country, there is so much gold and decorations in many central European chuches, that it´s too fancy for us.
But when we saw the photos of this church inside at my art book, we thought we MUST see this. And it was so beautyful! You might call me crazy, but Notre Dame didn´t feel nothing like that for us.
You will see at the photos what I mean. Maybe you wont think so, but we did.
There was a huge line outside waiting to get in. We wer lucky to have our Museum pass and go straight in. We did get some angry looks.. Maybe some people didn´t understnad why we got straight in.
Not very common in most churches, in this one the nobles and the people were separated in two different levels.
We enter through the low level (people's level) and thought the beauty is also present, it will not announce the striking light and colours of nobles' level.
Although I have been to Paris several times I have never been to Sainte-Chappelle . Sainte-Chappelle (Holy Chapel), an almost 800 years old Gothic chapel is on the Ile de la Cite.
The interior of the lower level, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is fairly unremarkable when compared to other chapels/churches in Europe. But as you climb the steps to the upper level the sight that greets you is spectacular - 15 stained glass windows in blues and reds – each 15.4m high and 4.25m wide. The windows tell the full biblical story of humanity from the Creation to redemption and are world renowned.
After seeing countless stained glass windows during our 2 months in Europe, these are still my favorites. It's a nice walk along the Seine to/from Notre Dame if you want to combine seeing both.
Admission: 8 € Adults, free for under 18 (The Museums and Monuments Card is also honored at this attraction.)
See website for discounted admission.
1 March to 31 October : 9:30 am to 6 pm
1 November to 28 February : 9 am to 5 pm
Open in the evening on Wednesdays 15 May to 15 September (last admission at 9 pm)
Closed on 1 January, 1 May 1 and 25 December
Access to the Sainte-Chapelle is controlled by the gendarmerie (no metal objects allowed).
All visitor information was correct as of this update.
The Sainte-Chapelle is maybe the most beautiful church of Paris, but certainly the most original one. It consists of two level, corresponding to two different ages: the lower level is decorated with Byzantine-like mosaics, while the upper level is the apotheosis of Gothic: very high windows tending up to God and practically no walls.
The entrance fee is not cheap but if you visit the church plus the Conciergerie (the ancient prison), you get a reduction. The Sainte-Chapelle belongs to the cultural site "Banks of Seine" included in UNESCO's World Heritage list since 1991.
King Louis IX (Saint Louis) decided to have a church built in order to keep some important relics in a single place. It may have been Pierre de Montreuil who built the Sainte-Chapelle in 1242. Its figures are really impressive: it is 36 m long, 17 m wide and 42,50 m high. Its high steeple has a lead facing that weighs 230 tons. The decorations with the Virgin at the entrance date back to the 19th century.
As I have written above, the church actually consists of two chapels: the lower chapel and the upper chapel. The lower chapel was destined to the servants and was heavily restored in the 19th century: only the gravestones on the floor dating back to the 13th and 14th century, are original.
On the contrary, the upper chapel was reserved to the royal family. Every one of its window measures 15,40 x 4,25 metres. It is difficult to distinguish the original sides from the remade ones: 720 over 1134 scenes are supposed to date back to the 13th century.
The central 15th-century rose window represents the Apocalypse.
Used as the royal private chapel the construction was sponsored by King Louis IX and consecrated in 1248.
Much of the chapel as it appears today is a re-creation, although nearly two-thirds of the windows are authentic.
Sitting there especially on a sunny day is a thrilling experience since you are practically surrounded by all the colors. Every cell relates a biblical account. They are very small and it is difficult to make them out.
Hidden within the Palais de Justice on Ile de la Cité, Sainte-Chapelle is the most magnificent church in Paris. It was built in 1248 by King Louis IX, who was later canonised as Saint Louis, to house important relics such as the crown of thorns, which he had purchased from the Latin Emperor of Constantinople. The architect, Pierre de Montreuil, designed a church composed of two chapels, the lower chapel with a polychromatic Gothic ceiling was used by the inhabitants of the surrounding royal palace, while the lofty upper chapel was reserved for the royals. Sainte-Chapelle is most celebrated for its 15 splendid stained glass windows along the walls of the upper chapel depicting scenes from the Bible. The effect of these windows and the lofty ceiling is mesmerising.
The Western Rose Window (which is placed directly opposite the relics) illustrates the Apocalypse of St John. In the centre of the rose, it depicts the return of Christ at the end of time, to judge the dead and the living.
Sainte-Chapelle is located in the 4th arrondissement, on the Île de la Cité. It is a Gothic Chapel, well known for its stained glass windows. It used to house the relics of the Passion of Christ (including the Crown of Thorns), which are now kept at Notre Dame. Built in the 12th century, it was damaged during the French Revolution, and what we see today are recreations (although most of the stained glass artworks on the windows are authentic).
The layout is quite simple - the upper chapel displayed the relics, and was the place of worship for the king, his family and close friends. The lower chapel was the place of worship for the palace staff. The basilica-type layout had a semicircular apse. The stained glass windows are found on the upper chapel (with 1,113 scenes depicted in 15 windows), telling the story of mankind from Genesis to the resurrection of Christ. 14 of the windows should be "read" from left to right, from the bottom upwards. The window telling the story of the relics of the Passion is the only one to be read differently.
It is opened from 9.30 am onwards, and admission is free if you have a museum pass.
Nearby the massive structure of Notre Dame sits the smaller, less noticeable Sainte Chapelle. This 12th century Gothic church has been surrounded by other buildings, which is part of the reason that its exterior is not a famous Paris landmark. The interior is famous, however, for its incredible stained glass. After passing through security in one building, you'll end up in another line to pay the entry fee (8 euro, or 12.50 for a combined Sainte Chapelle-Conciergerie ticket). Next, walk in and climb the winding staircase to your left. This takes you to the church's one and only room, which feels very small after you've seen churches such as Sacre Cour and Notre Dame. Beautiful stained glass lines each wall in huge windows that reach to the ceiling. Each window has a different story to tell, although they can be hard to decipher.
Until 2013, the church is undergoing renovation and restoring its windows. As lovely as this may be for the preservation of the church, it's not so lovely for visitors. When we were there, the entire altar was covered, definitely impacting the awe-level of the interior. Because the church is so small, covering a portion makes it seem less special. I wanted to love Sainte-Chapelle more than I did, and I have a feeling I would love it more if I saw it in its entirety. At the moment, the 8 euro entry seems excessive for what you get. Still, it's a must for anyone who likes stained-glass.
Hours are 9:30 to 6:00 daily.
Louis IX had it built in the 13th century to house the Crown of Thorns bought in Venice.
It consists of two chapels, one above the other, connected with an internal staircase. I don’t know which of the two my niece and I admired more.
the beautiful church of sainte-chapelle was built by louis IX in 1248. louis was extremely devout and an avid collector of religious relics. in 1239 he acquired the purported "Crown of Thorns" from the emperor of constantinople. in 1241 he acquired a fragment of the true cross as well as other relics. the cost of these relics was three times the cost of the construction of the chapel to house them. sainte-chapelle is considered one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of the western world. some must see sites of sainte-chapelle are the rose window, the apostle statues, and the upper and lower chapel.
A chapel built in mid-13th century
On the Île de la Cité, enclosd within the Palais de Jus
Rayonnante Gothic style
The Chapel was built to house Christ's crown of thorns, the Image of Edessa and thirty other relics of Christ that the then-king Louis IX purchased shortly before from the rulers of Constantinople. The purchase price of the relics was over 3 times higher than the cost of the build
Most impressive features are the stained glass windows and the stonework surrounding them, as well as the rose windows added a couple of centuries later.
- Given the location within Palais de Jus, prepare to be heavily searched
- A combined ticket to Consiergerie and Sainte-Chapelle can save time queueing