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  2. › enSainte-Chapelle

    Arranged across 15 windows, each 15 metres high, the stained glass panes depict 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments recounting the history of the world until the arrival of the relics in Paris. Continue your visit to the Conciergerie, a unique historical site alongside the Sainte-Chapelle in the Palais de la Cité, once a revolutionary ...

    • History
    • Timeline
    • Description
    • Stained Glass
    • Art and Decoration
    • The Relics and The Reliquary
    • Other Saintes-Chapelles
    • See Also
    • Bibliography
    • Further Reading


    Sainte-Chapelle was inspired by the earlier Carolingian royal chapels, notably that of Charlemagne at his palace in Aix-en-Chapelle (now Aachen). It was built in about 800, and served as the oratory of the Emperor. In 1238 Louis IX had already built one royal chapel, attached to the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. This earlier chapel had only one level; its plan, on a much grander scale, was adapted for Sainte-Chapelle. The two levels of the new chapel equal in size, had entirely different...

    The royal chapel

    1. Louis IX receives the crown of thorns and other sacred relics for the chapel (14th century illustration) 2. Illustration in Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry(c. 1400) 3. Sainte-Chapelle and the Palais de la Citéin 1615 The Sainte-Chapelle or "Holy Chapel", in the courtyard of the royal palace on the Île de la Cité (now part of a later administrative complex known as La Conciergerie), was built to house Louis IX's collection of relics of Christ, which included the crown of thorns, the Imag...


    1. Louis XV departs a ceremony at the Palace, with Sainte-Chapelle behind (1715) The chapel underwent considerable modification in the centuries that followed. A new two-story building, the Treasury of Chartres, was attached to the chapel on the north side shortly after it was completed. It remained until 1783, when it was demolished to build the new Palace of Justice. Annother building, which served as a vestiary and sacristy, as well as residence for the guardian of the treasury, was placed...

    1239 - Louis IX purchases the reputed Crown of Thorns
    1241 - The crown and other relics arrive in Paris
    1242-44 - Construction begins
    1248 – Sainte-Chapelle completed and consecrated

    The royal chapel is a prime example of the phase of Gothic architectural style called "Rayonnant", marked by its sense of weightlessness and strong vertical emphasis. It stands squarely upon a lower chapel, which served as parish church for all the inhabitants of the palace, which was the seat of government.

    Scenes from Passion of Christ (apse) (click 2X for full-size)
    Scenes from life of Ezekiel (south wall)
    Scenes from Ezekiel and Job (south wall, bay 4)
    Saint Louis transports relics of the true cross (south wall, bay 14)


    1. Detail of the portal of the upper chapel; Christ and the Last Judgement by Geoffroy-Dechaume 2. The creation of Eve from Adam's rib (portal of upper chapel) 3. Relief sculpture of Noah's ark and the flood (portal of upper chapel) Most of the sculpture of the portals was destroyed during the French Revolution, but between 1855 and 1870 the sculptor Adolphe-Victor Geoffroy-Dechaume was able to able to recreate it, using 18th century descriptions and engravings. One of the major works he recr...


    1. Lower chapel, column capital on reverse of west front 2. Interior of the west facade; Christ with Angels, Sts. Isaiah and Jeremiah in the quadilobes (painting by Steinheil, 1856) 3. Wall decoration, with the castle of the Kingdom of Castile 4. Quadrilobe painting of martyrdom of an Apostle, upper chapel (19th c. restitution of 13th c. decor) The goal of the two principal architects of the 19th century restoration, Durban and Lassus, was to recreate the interior, as much as possible, as it...

    Louis IX places the crown of thorns at Sainte-Chapelle (illuminated manuscript from 1480s)
    The Grande Châsse, or reliquary, in 1790
    Crown of Thorns in gilded crystal case (Notre-Dame de Paris, now in Louvre)
    Reliquary bust of Louis IX (Notre-Dame de Paris)

    Prior to the dissolution of the Sainte-Chapelle in 1803, following the French Revolution, the term "Sainte-Chapelle royale" also referred not only to the building but to the chapelle itself, the choir of Sainte-Chapelle. However, the term was also applied to a number of other buildings. Louis IX's chapel inspired several "copies", in the sense of royal or ducal chapels of broadly similar architectural form, built to house relics, particularly fragments of Louis' Passion Relics given by the King. Such chapels were normally attached to a ducal palace (e.g. Bourges, Riom), or else to an Abbey with particular links to the royal family (e.g. St-Germer-de-Fly). As with the original, such "Holy Chapels" were nearly always additional to the regular palatine or abbatial chapel, with their own dedicated clergy—usually established as a college of canons. For the patrons, such chapels served not only as public expressions of personal piety but also as valuable diplomatic tools, encouraging impo...

    de Finance, Laurence (2012). La Sainte-Chapelle- Palais de la Cité (in French). Éditions du Patrimoine, Centre des Monuments Nationaux. ISBN 978-2-7577-0246-8.
    Brisac, Catherine (1994). Le Vitrail (in French). Paris: La Martinière. ISBN 2-73-242117-0.
    Cavicchi, Camilla (2019). "Origin and Dissemination of Images of the Saint Chapel". Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography. 44 (1–2): 57–77. ISSN 1522-7464.
    Gebelin, F. (1937) La Sainte Chapelle et la Conciergerie. Paris.
  3. The Sainte-Chapelle is the finest royal chapel to be built in France and features a truly exceptional collection of stainedglass windows. It was built in the mid 13th century by Louis IX, at the heart of the royal residence, the Palais de la Cité, to house the relics of the Passion of Christ. Adorned with a unique collection of fifteen glass ...

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    • 8 Boulevard du Palais, Paris, 75001
    • The Sainte-Chapelle: A Bit of History
    • Exterior of The Sainte-Chapelle
    • Interior of The Sainte-Chapelle
    • My Book Recommendation!
    • How to Get there?

    The Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) was commissioned by King Louis IX (Saint-Louis) possibly from architect Pierre of Montreuil between 1242 and 1248 in the Palais de la Cité, then the royal residence. Consecrated in 1248, the sacred shrine was designed to house the relics of the Passion of Christ. In 1239, the devout king acquired from the Emperor of Constantinople the Crown of Thornsand in 1241 a fragment of the Holy Cross and the Holy Lance. Saint-Louis paid nearly three times the cost of building the Sainte-Chapelle. The Passion relics were kept in a large and ornate silver chest called the Grand-Chasse. In storing such relics in a magnificent sanctuary, Saint-Louis sought to give Parisand the kingdom of France a definite prestige in the eyes of medieval Europe. The king’s ambition was to make Paris the second capital of Christendom after Rome, a “New Jerusalem”. During the Middle-Ages, the clergy of the Sainte-Chapelle did not report to the Bishop of Paris but to the Holy See. Un...

    The Sainte-Chapelle was built some 80 years after Notre-Dame Cathedral. The exterior of the chapel is uncomplicated and quite sober. The Rayonnant Gothic chapelfeatures tall windows (15 m) subdivided by bar tracery and deep buttresses. The latter are surmounted by pinnacles decorated with crockets and crowns of thorns, referring to the first relic brought in the chapel by Louis IX. The entrance to the chapel is located under a porch whose tympanum represents the coronation. The trumeau features a Virgin with Child. Above it is a much more ornate porch with a tympanum representing the Last Judgement. The present spirewas raised in 1853 and reaches a height of 75 metres above street level.

    The Sainte-Chapelle is considered among the greatest Gothic masterpieces of the Christendom with the richest decoration found inside. The shrine is famous for housing an exceptional collections of 13th century stained-glass. The Sainte-Chapelle consists of two superimposed sanctuaries: the Lower Chapel and the Upper Chapel.

    Its name? Simply: Gothic: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting by Rolf Toman, Publisher: Ullmann This book has been for me a great resource that helped me better understand the Gothic movement in art from the 12th century to the Renaissance. An architectural style that first originated from France and spread all over Europe. Over 500 pages it focuses on the development of Gothic architecture with many illustrations and photographs, but not only. I’ve also found interesting the in-depth discussion of the most diverse art forms, including painting, sculpture, metalwork and even book illumination! It also includes specific coverage of the Cathars’ Heresy and the Papal Palace in Avignon. And, of course, it mentions the Sainte-Chapelle! This is definitely the book I recommend if – like me – you love everything about Gothic such as churches, gargoyles, stained glass, flying buttresses and so much more. Order it online!

    The closest métro station is “Cité” on line 4.
    The Sainte-Chapelle is situated in the 1st arrondissement of Paris on the Île de la Cité, not far from Notre-Dame cathedral.
    You can buy your tickets on-line following one of these two links:
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