Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

4.5 out of 5 stars 145 Reviews

Boulevard du Palais 01 53 73 78 50

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  • St. Chapelle
    St. Chapelle
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  • The front of the chapel
    The front of the chapel
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  • Palais de Justice home of St Chapelle
    Palais de Justice home of St Chapelle
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  • zadunajska8's Profile Photo

    Sainte Chapelle - The Lower Chapel

    by zadunajska8 Updated Aug 30, 2012

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    The Lower Chapel of Sainte Chapelle was the place used by the commoners and servants at the royal palace of the medieval Capetian Kings of France. It acted as a sort of parish church for the court and palace.

    When visiting Sainte Chapelle this is the first part of the site that you enter after the ticket office and security check. It's also the place where the gift shop is tragically located. Tragic because I think they could (and should) have kept the gift shop out of this place and maybe had it in the courtyard outside. I don't say this because of any religious belief (I'm a screaming atheist) but because I think it ruins this fabulous space.

    You might expect the Lower Chapel used by the commoners to be plain. Well in comparision to the Upper Chapel it is, but it's still lavish and wonderful in it's own right and you should take some time to explore this place before making your way up the narrow stone spiral staircase to the Upper Chapel.

    I found the arches and vaulted ceiling to be the best thing about this very special place.

    See my main Sainte Chapelle page for more details about opening times and history etc.

    Sainte Chapelle - The Lower Chapel Sainte Chapelle - The Lower Chapel Sainte Chapelle - The Lower Chapel Sainte Chapelle - The Lower Chapel Sainte Chapelle - The Lower Chapel
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    Sainte Chapelle - An Overview

    by zadunajska8 Updated Aug 30, 2012

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    The Sainte Chapelle has been (rightly in my opinion) proclaimed as a masterpiece and wonder of medieval architecture. The ethereal and almost magical feel of the place, created by the spectacular use of so much stained glass (and of such quality work) is something you will remember about your visit to Paris.

    The chapel was built by King Louis IX (St Louis) to house the holy relics he had acquired from the Latin emperor in Constantinople which included the Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the cross along with some 30 other items claimed to be related to the Passion of Christ. The King had actually purchased them from the Venetians in practice as they had been pawned to them. The relics were carried by Dominican friars from Venice to Paris and arrived there in August 1239. The last stage of the journey actually saw the King carrying them himself dressed as a penitent and bare foot (this is actually shown in one of the stained glass windows of the chapel).

    The Sainte Chapelle is actually comprised of two chapels, an Upper Chapel which was used by the King and the royal family (and presumably other important and favoured people), and a Lower Chapel which was used as a parish church for the palace of the Capetian Kings of France on the Ile-de-la-Cité. This lower chapel would therefore have been used by servants and commoners.

    Both chapels are spectacularly beautiful and very colourful whilst having very different characters and both can be visited, but it's not cheap! Entry is €8.50 per person, or you can get a combined ticket with the Conciergerie just a few steps down the street for €12.50. Far better value however is to get a Paris museum pass which starts at €39 for 2 days and includes most of the very expensive sights of Paris, including the Sainte Chapelle and Conciergerie (but not the Eiffel Tower).

    The site is open every day except New Years Day, 1st May and Christmas Day. From March to October 9.30am to 6pm and from November to February from 9am to 5pm. If you are visiting in winter I would imagine you need to make sure you go during bright daylight to get the best from the stained glass. I can't see that you would get the same effect on a late afternoon in December when it's already dark.

    When you arrive you will have to submit to the all to familiar ritual of walking through the airport style metal detectors and having someone take a quick peek in your bag, which has become a sad sign of our times.

    Sainte Chapelle - The Upper Chapel Sainte Chapelle Sainte Chapelle - The Lower Chapel Sainte Chapelle - The Upper Chapel Sainte Chapelle - The Upper Chapel
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    Sainte Chapelle - The Upper Chapel

    by zadunajska8 Written Aug 30, 2012

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    The Upper Chapel of Sainte Chapelle was the place where the King and other royals would have worshiped in the medieval palace here on the Ile-de-la-Cité. It is a true wonder of medieval architecture and it is one of those things I would suggest people add to their list of things to see before they die.

    The 15 immense stained glass windows (plus a 16th Rose window) are separated by just thin stone columns and the result is a blaze of light and colour all around you as soon as you emerge from the dark and narrow spiral stone staircase from the Lower Chapel.

    Predictably the windows show stories from both the old and new testaments but also the 15th window shows the story of the relics that were housed here (such as the crown of Thorns) in medieval times, but frankly this seemed irrelevant in the face of the beauty of the sum of the elements of the construction. If you look carefully you can see images such as the Last Supper, Adam and Eve in Eden and King Louis IX bringing the Relics of the Passion into Paris in 1239.

    For details of opening times and some brief history see my main Sainte Chapelle page.

    Sainte Chapelle - The Upper Chapel Sainte Chapelle - The Upper Chapel Sainte Chapelle - The Upper Chapel Sainte Chapelle - The Upper Chapel Sainte Chapelle - The Upper Chapel
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  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo

    Sainte Chapelle- Bottom Church

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated Jan 23, 2012

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    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.

    Paris - Sainte Chapelle Paris - Sainte Chapelle
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    Spectacular

    by merockwell Written Oct 30, 2011

    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.

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    Breath taking glass paintings!

    by Turska Written Sep 28, 2011

    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.

    Outside it looks quite typical
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    Beautiful Stained Glass

    by Donna_in_India Updated Jun 12, 2011

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    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.

    Hours:

    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.

    Stained glass window in Sainte-Chapelle Stained glass window in Sainte-Chapelle Stained glass window in Sainte-Chapelle
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    Sainte-Chapelle - overview (2003)

    by Mikebond Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

    Sainte-Chapelle the high windows of the upper chapel Sainte-Chapelle the two chapels
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    A Paris Highlight

    by TexasDave Updated Dec 5, 2010

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    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.

    Rose Window
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    Sainte-Chapelle

    by MM212 Updated Nov 28, 2010

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    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.

    Magnificent windows of Ste Chapelle, Oct 09 The slender Gothic fa��ade, Oct 09 Restoration in progress (Oct 09) Chapelle Basse (Lower Chapel) - Oct 2009 The spire - Oct 2009
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    The Western Rose Window

    by chatterley Written Sep 1, 2010

    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.

    The Western Rose Window The Western Rose Window

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    Beautiful Stained Glass Windows

    by chatterley Written Sep 1, 2010

    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.

    Sainte-Chapelle (upper chapel)

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    Sainte Chapelle

    by dek516 Written Aug 24, 2010

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    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.

    The windows of Sainte Chapelle A window close-up The rose window
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    The extraordinary chapel

    by viddra Updated Jul 21, 2010

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    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 lower church the chapel the staircase famous stained - glass windows the rose window
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    sainte-chapelle

    by doug48 Updated Jan 20, 2010

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    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.

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