Sainte Chapelle Paris
Step into the Gothic architectural masterpiece of Sainte Chapelle Paris, a royal chapel built in 1248. It only took seven years to complete this historic church. It was built to house precious relics including the Crown of Thorns and the Image of Edessa. Marvel at its stunning stained-glass windows and explore the grounds with a free 45-minute guided tour.
History of Sainte Chapelle
The Sainte Chapelle, also known as the Holy Chapel, was built by King Louis IX with the sole purpose of housing his holy relics. Originally, he had 22 relics, but through the years, the number grew smaller and smaller until only three remained. They include the Crown of Thorns, a piece of the cross and a nail. Each relic was stored safely inside a silver chest until the construction of the chapel was complete. Every Good Friday, Saint-Louis, as the king came to be known as by the Catholic Church, would reveal the relics to members of the Parish. However, none of these relics is in the Holy Chapel today. Instead, you’ll find them over in the Notre-Dame.
Architecture and features
Just by looking at the Sainte Chapelle you can tell it’s a prime example of the classic Gothic architectural style. Inside, the structure has a vertical emphasis to it with super high ceilings and an upper chapel made of 618m² of stained-glass windows. The stained-glass windows are the oldest in Paris and one of the most impressive sets in the world.
Surprisingly, there are two chapels inside. One is referred to as the ‘upper chapel’, which was created for the king and his family as a private place of worship. The lower chapel was the main place of worship and served as the parish church for locals and those living within the palace such as the officers.
Tour the Sainte Chapelle
Exploring inside the chapel takes you back to the Middle Ages, as you uncover artistic creations within the stain-glass windows. The windows depict various scenes from the Bible and include the Life of the Virgin, John the Evangelist and John the Baptist, to name a few. While you’re there take a closer look at the scenes and see if you recognise any stories yourself.
If you need some help, take part in the free guided tour of the church. Your tour guide will reveal everything you need to know about the history of the church as well as Sainte Chapelle facts and stories from the Old Testament. You could also go for an audio guide tour at a small cost, which provides one hour of commentary in multiple languages including English and French.
Concerts at the Sainte Chapelle
Did you know that the Sainte Chapelle often hosts fantastic classical concerts throughout the year? You’ll need to check in advance to see if there’ll be any concerts when you visit. If there is one on, it’s worth booking tickets or make plans to attend. Classical concerts take place around three times per week o there’s a good chance there will be a performance during your time in Paris. Find yourself a seat and listen to live music in a dreamy, aesthetic setting of beauty, wonder and culture. It’s a peaceful experience and something that you’ll remember for a lifetime, so we highly recommend it.
Visit the gift and bookshop
If you’d like to bring home some souvenirs from your visit to the Sainte Chapelle, make sure to check out the gift shop inside the chapel. Here, you can shop for stunning stained-glass jewellery, which makes the perfect gift for a friend back home or as a nice treat for yourself. At busy times, the gift shop can get very crowded. If you’re looking for something to read on the metro bus back to your hotel, pick up a book from the shop and uncover the secrets of the chapel’s windows and vibrant history.
Nearby historical sites
Right alongside the Sainte Chapelle is the Conciergerie. This was once a prison that’s known to have housed Marie-Antoinette and worth your time if you love exploring historical sites. Explore the Guards Room, the Hall of the Soldiers and the old medieval kitchens during your visit. Learn about the history of the palace and its time as a revolutionary prison. Famed for imprisoning Marie-Antoinette, many people visit the old jail to see the memorial chapel that was built where her cell once resided. It’s handy to attend both the Conciergerie and the Sainte Chapelle on the same day since they’re so close to each other.