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A Gothic masterpiece with stunning 15-meter (50-foot)-tall stained glass windows makes this a must-see for all Paris visitors.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

 


 

 

A jewel in the heart of the Île de la Cité (map), the Sainte-Chapelle is best known for the soaring stained glass windows that line the upper chapel. The chapel is a marvel of perfect medieval stained glass that turns the sun's light into a symphony of color.

While other churches may also have exquisite stained glass, nothing can match the Sainte-Chapelle for both quality and quantity. The windows appear to float and hold up the structure.

Each of the sixteen windows (over 1000 scenes) tells stories from the Bible, starting with Genesis/Adam and Eve and concluding with the Apocalypse in the magnificent rose window.

Because glass is the main feature, try to go on a sunny day. Binoculars are helpful to see the top windows.

Chairs lining the sanctuary allow you to sit and study the windows. Take your time; the longer you look, the more you see.

Sainte-Chapelle is very popular so expect to wait in line. Lines are shortest within the first hour of opening. On weekdays the chapel closes from about 1:00 until 2:15. If you arrive shortly before then, the number of visitors diminishes as you approach the closing time, giving you better visibility, but less time to spend.

  Sign at the Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France
  You won't get your
Swiss Army knife
back!

The Sainte-Chapelle is located within Paris's Palais de Justice (law courts), and security is especially tight. You must pass through an airport-type security check and you will not be allowed to bring any weapons or weapon-like tools (Swiss army knife, scissors, etc) into the complex.

Although it used to be that you could deposit any weapon-like belonging and retrieve it at the end of your stay, this procedure has been stopped. Now, if you give up a belonging, it will not be returned! Leave your Swiss Army knife, pocket knife, scissors, or any other object that might be considered usable as a weapon, in your hotel room on the day you visit the Sainte-Chapelle.

  Stained glass window, Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France
  Bring binoculars and come on a sunny day to see the brilliant colors...

Once past security you'll buy your ticket and climb the stairs from the ground-floor servants' chapel to the glorious upper chapel.

Built in 1246 by St. Louis (Louis IX), much of the Sainte-Chapelle's glass is original and is the oldest in Paris.

The royal family attended church here; Louis XI added the oratory, with a grille that allowed him to watch the service unobserved.

During the Middle Ages, relics of saints and martyrs were highly valued objects: the knucklebone of a holy man, the femur of a saint, the skull of a martyr, were all thought to have magical religious powers.

The Sainte-Chapelle, or "Holy Chapel," was originally built to serve as a repository for the reputed Crown of Thorns, said to have been taken from Jesus's crucifixion. It was captured by the Crusaders from Byzantine Constantinople and sent to Paris for safekeeping.

Métro: Cité, St-Michel, or Chatelet
RER: St-Michel Notre-Dame

Sainte-Chapelle


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Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

Glorious medieval stained glass windows of the Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France.



Stained glass window, Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France