A palace chapel on two levels, the Sainte- Chapelle is the great jewel of Paris's Gothic architecture. It is only rarely, on very special occasions, used for worship, but is very frequently in use for concerts. To reach the chapel, turn left immediately inside the large iron gate at the main entrance to the Palais de Justice.This marvel of High Gothic architecture was built for Louis IX in less than 33 months in 1245-48, probably by Pierre de Montreuil.
Official site: sainte-chapelle.monuments-nationaux.fr
Address: 4 boulevard du Palais, F-75001 Paris, France
Opening hours: Mar 1 to Oct 31: 9:30am-6pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Remembrance Day / 1918 Armistice Day (Nov 11), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €7.50, Group of 20 or more €5.70, Youth 25 & under €4.80, Child 17 & under FREE
Useful tips: Group visit and reserve one week in advance. Tour guide reserve one week in advance.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Guides: Guided tour included with admission.
Facilities: Gift shop
Transit: Metro: Cite; Bus: 21, 24, 27, 38, 81, 85, 96.
The Upper Chapel (Chapelle Haute) is the Sainte Chapelle proper. It was dedicated to the Holy Relics and was reserved for the king, the royal family and high dignitaries of the court. The relics - a splinter of the True Cross, a fragment from the crown of thorns and a nail from the Cross - are now preserved in the Treasury of Notre Dame. Visitors entering the chapel are first struck by the brilliance of the light, which seems to cancel out the force of gravity on the masonry. The beautiful vaulting is borne on 14 22m/70ft high buttresses which provide the framework for the windows, 15m/50ft high by 4m/13ft wide. Apart from a low blind arcade decorated with scenes of martyrdom round the base, the chapel has no walls as such. Its great beauty lies in the stained glass, depicting more than 1,000 different Biblical scenes, which fill the Sainte-Chapelle with all the colors of the rainbow. A third of the total area of stained glass (the lower levels) has been faithfully restored; all the rest are original 13th century work. The Late Gothic rose window, depicting scenes from the Apocalypse, dates from the reign of Charles VIII (1493-98). Against the buttresses in the nave are statues of the 12 Apostles, though only half of them are original. In the third bay, on the left, are two recesses for the king and the queen. From his oratory in the 12th bay, on right, Louis IX could hear mass without being seen. In the apse is a small dais under a wooden baldachin, once occupied by the reliquary containing the sacred relics. Two flights of wooden steps lead up to it; the one on the left is original. Only the French king had the key to the reliquary, the contents of which he displayed to the assembled royal household on Good Friday.
The Chapelle Basse (Lower Chapel) at Sainte Chapelle was originally for the court servants. Its vaulted roof, only 6.60m/22ft high, is borne on 14 columns set close to the walls.