- Inside Sainte-Chapelle Looking Towards Front
- Reviewed by
on April 14, 2015
The most colorful chapel in all of Paris is a site not to be missed on even the shortest jaunt into the city. We have walked and métro‘ed folks around the city in one day and made sure to include this jewel in the crown that is the City of Lights.
The stained glass is amazingly–and may we say miraculously–one of the largest collections of 13th century stained glass in the world, two thirds surviving both the French Revolution of 1789 and World Wars I and II.
Situated on the Île de la Cité, just a bit to the west of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, Sainte-Chapelle was commissioned by Louis IX, begun in 1239 and consecrated in 1248. It was built to house the king’s collection of passion relics, including, supposedly, Christ’s crown of thorns.
While not a cathedral (containing the seat of a bishop), but rather a chapel (a place of prayer and worship attached to a non-religious entity, in this case, the royal residence of Louis IX), Sainte-Chapelle is exquisite in its vibrant colors, most notably its blues. This blue is completely different from the Caribbean blue, where water and sky effuse the cool color in a warm setting. When using Cheap Caribbean promo codes, this is, no doubt, the blue that you will experience.
Louis IX spent a total of 235,000 livres (pounds; one of many French currencies of the Middle Ages) on both his collection of relics and the large, elaborate silver chest designed to house them. By contrast, the chapel itself cost only 40,000 livres to build.
As you walk toward the chapel it is most unassuming. There is no grand plaza at the entrance. To the uninitiated, the interior takes you by delightful surprise. Even the ceiling is beautifully painted in a diaphanous pattern.
The chapel itself is in the Gothic architectural style called Rayonnant, featuring a sense of weightlessness and soaring vertical lines. The simplicity of the exterior belies the vibrant, rich, even delicate interior which seemingly reaches to the heavens. The colors of the restorers of the 19th century are not as deep and full-bodied as those of the original, yet the current colors and designs are breathtaking.
When you visit Saint-Chapelle, ponder that the chapel itself tells the full Biblical story in its stained glass scenes, its statues and its columns. In an illiterate time, anyone who entered could “read” Scripture for himself or herself. Awesome.