Update 2013: The last time we walked by, there was still scaffolding up, but it was open so I'd go unless you're sure you'll be back.
Update 2011: Central stained glass windows are currently undergoing restoration. Stained glass windows in the North and South can be viewed, as can the Western rose window.
Oddly, we had been to Paris several times before we visited Ste. Chapelle. That was a mistake. Now we visit every time and glory in the stained glass, although I must admit I am utterly in love with the ground floor and exquisite painting on walls, pillars and ceiling . . . and this is where the peasants attended church!
Ste. Chapelle is no longer a working church but is often used for concerts. There are many marvelous stories including one of a monk who spent a year at Ste. Chapelle following the Bible stories in the stained glass. You will see many people with detailed guidebooks and binoculars sitting along the sides doing the same thing. Presumably, they don't have a year to spend doing this.
If you want to see detail, I highly recommend the binoculars. If you just want to soak up the ambience, go on a sunny day and sit and marvel at the riot of colors.
It was hard to leave the upper chapel of the Sainte-Chapelle. This is a place where you always will feel you haven't seen it all. The windows, the colours, the decorations, and the endless high ceiling, it is almost too much. But at some point you do need to force yourself down the stairs where the lower chapel awaits you. And yes, somehow you should visit the chapels the other way round. After the upper chapel, the lower is doomed to be a disappointment. Here there are no amazing windows, the ceiling is low, it doesn't even feel like a church or chapel, probably mainly due to the little kiosk in the middle selling books and postcards It all distracts, and for a moment I felt very unfocused of where to look and what was so special about it. But this lower chapel does have its own charm, hahaha, I guess it just took me a moment to realize it ;-)
So don't run out right away, but give it some time! As soon as your eyes are adjusted to this new environment you'll discover that the lower chapel IS a feast for the eye with its colourful arches and columns. The chapel is 6,6 metres high and is entirely dedicated to the Virgin Mary I've added a few more photos to this tip to give you a bit of an impression how colourful and charming this lower chapel really is.
When you want to visit the Sainte-Chapelle, do be prepared to stand in line! The security checks are quite high as well; it feels more like entering an airport then a chapel, with metal detectors and baggage search. But once you are in, it all seems worth it. The entrance fee is rather steep in my opinion, a true downside of a visit to the Sainte-Chapelle. I thought it was rather out of balance and even though the chapel is very beautiful, with the time spend here; the price did feel a bit over the top.
March the 1st to October the 31st: daily 9.30 am - 6.00 pm
November the 1st to February the 29th: 9.00 am-5.00 pm
Entrance until 30 minutes before closing time
Entrance fee for an unguided visit (approx. 30 min - 1 hour): 7.5 €
On our previous visits to Paris, we had missed the Sainte-Chapelle. It isn’t hard to do, given that it is tucked between the law courts (Palais de Justice) Main photo. From the square in front of Notre Dame, little more than the spire is visible. I was determined to get there on this visit. Be prepared for the full security treatment (open bags, metal detectors etc), as the entry to the Sainte-Chapelle is shared with the courts!
Louis IX (Saint Louis) had the Sainte-Chapelle built to house the purported ‘Crown of Thorns’ he had purchased from the Emperor of Constantinople. Construction of this masterpiece of gothic architecture took six years and was finished in 1242. A cynic would suggest that the Emperor knew a few things about selling (or that Louis was an easy mark), because the religious relic cost more than four times as much as the building (and imagine what that would cost now)!
The ground floor with its vaulted ceilings and incredible paintwork Photo 2 provides a stunning entry, now largely occupied by the souvenir desk which has a good selection of guide books and other tourist material. Now head up the stairs and you will find yourself in the delicate stonework and excellent stained glass of the upper level Photos 3,4. It is indeed a breathtaking place: now try to comprehend that, during the Revolution, the building was used to store flour!
The little two-tiered church of Saint Chapelle is, to my mind, the most beautiful building in all Paris. Built by France's saint-king, Louis IX, in 1248, to house the Crown of Thorns and other precious relics acquired at enormous cost from the Emperor of Byzantium (now housed in the Treasury of Notre Dame), the two chapels are at the same time in complete contrast and completely complementary to each other.
The lower chapel, intended for use by the household servants, with its low vaulted ceiling, walls painted in darkly rich colours, gilding and small high windows, is the very image of a kingly mediaeval chapel, a lovely little jewel box.
The Upper Chapel is nothing short of breathtaking. So cleverly has the architect designed its soaring pillars and windows, the supporting structure is barely noticeable and the walls seems to be made solely of the most exquisite stained glass while the delicately vaulted ceiling floats above you. With sunlight pouring through the tall windows it truly is a miracle of light and space. Two-thirds of the glass is original, a miracle in itself given the turbulent history of the city the chapel graces so perfectly. No photo can do it justice -you really will have to go and see it for yourself.
This was our first time to visit Sainte-Chapelle and we almost wouldn't have made it. The first time we arrived there around 11:45, there was a long queue and we started waiting. I finally walked up to see if the queue would go on behind the bend and only then did I see a sign saying that the chapel would be closed from one o'clock to (I think) two, I don't remember exactly.By the time we would have been down the queue, the chapel would be closed. We left and went to the flower market instead.
The next morning we were there very early, the queue was much shorter, in fact there were two, a right one for the chapel and a left one for the Palais de Justice.Even though there are clear signs saying which queue is for which entrance, several poor people had been waiting in the wrong one and had to go to the end of the other line. Again, as the day before, a sign was taken outside saying that the chapel would be closed during lunch hour, something which is not mentioned in the official opening times.
Once you're through with waiting in the line, have passed security, you get to buy your ticket and finally go into the chapel. It is definitely worth the wait!
It is an architectural miracle, especially considering the fact that it is more than 800 years old.The red and blue windows are breathtaking. We were lucky, the sun was shining for a short time when we were there, making the windows glow even more. Don't go upstairs to the famous glass windows all at once. The lower part of the chapel is also beautiful, especially the ceiling which resembles the sky.
The picture is from the lower part . My camera is not good enough to take good pictures of the glass windows.
A wonderful example of High Gothic architecture, Sainte-Chapelle was constructed by Saint Louis in the period 1242-1248 for hosting the relics of the Passion of Christ.
Ste-Chapelle was consecrated in 1248, the lower chapel being dedicated to the Virgin and serving as Palace parish, while the upper chapel was the royal chapel and the place were the relics were kept.
The most remarkable decorations of the upper chapel are the statues of the 12 Apostles.
The Holy Relics are kept in a rich decorated reliquary on the top of the baldaquin in the apse and are presented in the Holy Friday.
The tall 15 stained glass windows are the oldest in Paris and the theme presented is the Passion.
- April 1st - September 30th: 09:30-18:30
- October 1st - March 31st: 10:00-17:00
Being a great fan of Gothic architecture, I don't quite know why it's taken me thirty years to visit St Chapelle - all I know is that it was worth the wait!
As the name implies, St Chapelle is a chapel which is part of the Conciergerie complex and the only surviving part of the original palace, having been consecrated in 1248. It has been lovingly restored, and every detail - from the windows to the gilded woodwork and the painstaking frescoes (complete with a constellation of tiny fleur-de-lys on the ceiling). It is tiny by comparison with other Paris churches, and having been designed in the 'Rayonnant' Gothic style, it has a particularly high ceiling relative to its length and breadth and - unlike other masterpieces of Gothic architecture such as Notre Dame and St Eustache - it has no flying buttresses. This architectural model provides maximum room for windows - and what windows they are!
St Chapelle's stained glass is absolutely breathtaking, and all the more overwhelming because the proportion of window to building is much higher than in a conventional church. I attended an early evening concert that coincided with sunset (which I'd love to claim was deliberate due to careful planning on my part, but in reality, only a happenstance that I realised once I'd made the booking) and to watch the glow of the jewel-toned windows in the fading light was quite extraordinary.
St Chapelle often hosts concerts - usually 'classics lite' such as Vivaldi - but hugely enjoyable nonetheless. The performance I saw was by a string quartet didn't so much take the Four Seasons at a canter, but at a full blooded gallop, and the combination of gorgeous, familiar music with wonderful acoustics in a beautiful setting was quite intoxicating. However, be warned that such concerts are usually fairly brief, and there may actually be two concerts in a single evening (the one I attended started at 19:00 and the next performance was scheduled for 20:30). These concerts are also not cheap - I think that I paid €30 online - but when you factor in the admission fee that you'd have paid to visit St Chapelle anyway (€11 combined with the Conciergerie at the time of writing in October 2011) then it begins to dip back into the realms of the affordable.
St Chapelle has an intimate feel that's quite different to the imposing Gothic splendour of Notre Dame or St Denis, so if you've fallen in love with those buildings - and with the zeal of the newly converted - I implore you not to even consider this missing this!
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.
Ste-Chapelle, cathedral of light, said to contain more stained-glass than mortar. Completed April 26, 1248 by King Louis IX/St. Louis to house the Crown of Thorns (Nôtre-Dame's tresor - shown Christmas & Easter).
In this lovely early Gothic cathedral there are 15 stained-glass panels as well as the east rose window. Wine connoisseurs compare the colors in fine wine to the colors of the windows. You can see original panels up close at Musée de Cluny. This is a true architectural marvel in that there is roughly twice as much stained glass as stone.
1st 2 trips, untertaken under cloudy conditions, windows were lovely but I didn't understand what the fuss was about. 3rd trip I made certain to visit on a sunny in hopes they would work their mythic magic on me; and so they did.
A long wait thru security but once in it was a breeze to ease past the line for entry using a museum pass. I traversed straight to the upper chapel to view the fabulous windows & camped out in one of the chairs to wait as the light slowly glided past the jeweled windows to create the dazzling color light show on the ancient, fleur-de-lys-painted floor. I stayed for several hours reading the English description of the windows & studied the figures in each panel. As the sun lit up the colors in different panels, I took pictures. At one point, the crowd dispersed and I was able to take photos of the phantasmagoric colored dots on the floor! It was well worth the wait & effort to see them in all their glory.
Binoculars or Opéra glasses (as suggested by my good friend, Sandye) highly recommended.
Closed: Jan 1, May 1, Dec 25
Reduced: 3.50€ Groups: 4.50€ School groups: free
E-mail: sainte-chapelle@monum.Carte Musées et Monuments accepted here.
Photo: April 2003
I believe a lot of tourists don't make it as far as Sainte-Chapelle, which is a shame, as it is hugely impressive. The whole place seems to be ablaze with light from the stained glass windows that run the whole way around the church.
Sainte-Chapelle was built in 1248 by Louis XI as his own personal chapel. He believed he kept Christ's crown of thorns in there and many other religious relics such as a fragment from the cross. An interesting statistic is that King Louis XI paid almost three times as much money for his relics (purchased from the Emperor of Constantinople) as he did in building Sainte-Chapelle.
Before you enter the church, look up at one of the pinnacles and try and spot the crown of thorns on it. This was placed here as a commemoration of the first relic that Louis bought.
Last but certainly not least is my visit to the Sainte-Chapelle, a wonderful Gothic chapel and part of the Palais de Justice complex. Having seen many photos here on VT and other places on the web, I imagined the Sainte-Chapelle as a large church with amazing glass-stained windows, but I was so wrong. Not about the glass-stained windows though, those are really amazing! But about the size of the church; it is so much smaller then I originally imagined.
The Sainte-Chapelle was built during the second half of 13th Century by Louis IX to house the relics of the Passion of Christ. The Sainte-Chapelle (French for The Holy Chapel), is divided into two levels, and I would like to start off with the upper Chapel (see photos). After climbing up the narrow winding staircase, you will be amazed with the view that awaits you. The chapel is a rather small room with windows so high that they seem to want to reach out to the sky. These bright colourful windows are 15.35 metres high and 4.7 metres wide each.
The windows probably will capture your attention so much, that you might forget to look at the monumental shrine and the colourful painted and decorated walls. But those are worth some attention as well. There are chairs on the sides of the chapel, which make it possible to sit down for a while, so you can take it all in at your own pace. And there is enough to see, as this relatively small room is so filled with decoration and colours it needs some time to fully understand the beauty of this all.
Ste-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) was built by pious St. Louis (King Louis IX) to house the reputed Crown of Thorns & pieces of the True Cross (which now reside in Nôtre-Dame's tresor - shown to the public Christmas & Easter). These saintly relics were bought from the Emperor of Constantinople, Baldwin, which were supposedly "obtained" from Jerusalem by Helena, mother to Constantine (for whom Constantinople was named).
From April thru mid-October, join Ste-Chapelle in the evening for magical candle-lit chamber & classical music concerts.
Here's a picture of the window St. Louis used to peer thru when he didn't feel like mingling with his subjects. He could protect his privacy & enjoy the service.
Closed: Jan 1, May 1, Dec 25
Reduced: 3.50€ Groups: 4.50€ School groups: free
Carte Musées et Monuments accepted here.
Photo: April 2003
The first church that most people think of visiting is the Notre Dame but what they don't know is that there is a more beautiful church nearby, surrounded by the Palais of Justice on the Ile de la Citý.
IMHO, Saint Chapelle deserves more mention as it is the most beautiful church in Paris. Built by Louis IX in the 1240's to house relics from the Holy Land, this fragile monument has more stained glass than supporting beams put together.
This chapel has 2 tiers and in this picture, you're looking at the upper chapel with the radiant rose windows and delicate star-flecked ceiling.
Try not to miss the lower chapel of Saint Chapelle as it is just as astounding . All you'll see are tiers and tiers of colourful arches, columns and stainglass depictions of saints and biblical stories.
In this picture, you see me standing in front of two black columns which were built to bear the weight of a heavy shrine located in the upper chapel. And if you look carefully at the colourful columns, you'll see golden fleur de lys on a blue background and golden castilian castles on a red background.They symbolize the builder, King Louis and his mother, Blanche de Castille.
Click here to see more pictures that I took in Saint Chapelle
In 1241, the very devout King Louis IX, who was to become St. Louis, decided to build a sanctuary next to his palace, which has now become the Court of Justice. His main reason for having the Sainte-Chapelle built was to house the religious relics he had bought: these included Christ's crown of thorn and a piece of the wooden cross he was crucified on. Construction began in 1246 and a lot of money was spent to make sure it would be ready quicky; by 1248, the Sainte-Chapelle had been completed.
The Sainte-Chapelle is made up of two parts: the Lower Chapel, where servants and "ordinary people" could gather to pray, and the Upper Chapel, which was only accessible to the King and his family. I was a bit disappointed to see that a big part of the Lower Chapel had been converted into a gift shop - it definitely takes away some of the beauty of the place. The Upper Chapel, however, is breathtaking - the incredible stained glass windows and ornaments are a feast for the eyes! No words on where the relics have gone...
You have to go through the Court of Justice to get to the Sainte-Chapelle, which means that you have to go through a full security check and that can result in pretty long line-ups. Admission costs 6.50 Euros, but you can use your Museum Pass, or for 9.50 Euros you can buy a ticket that also gives you access to La Conciergerie next door.