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11 September 2015 / leggypeggy

Sainte-Chapelle a jewel in the crown of Paris

central window, Sainte-Chapelle

The windows at one end of the second storey of Sainte-Chapelle

After Poor John managed to escape trying on some stunning men’s clothing in an over-the-top Parisienne shop, we found ourselves in the even more stunning Sainte-Chapelle, a medieval Gothic chapel on the Ile de la Cité in the heart of Paris.

Hailed as one of the greatest architectural masterpieces of the Western world, this chapel was commissioned in the 1240s by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of important Passion relics, including what was believed to be Christ’s Crown of Thorns and fragments of the True Cross.

The story goes that the king bought the relics from Baldwin II, the Emperor of Constantinople, for almost three times as much as it cost to build Sainte-Chapelle.

Sainte-Chapelle downstairs

Sainte-Chapelle downstairs

While we didn’t see any of these pricey relics, we were gobsmacked by the interior decoration of this incredible building. People of the Middle Ages were too, and referred it as the ‘gateway to heaven’.

The ground floor is a somewhat sombre introduction to the chapel. It was set aside for use by servants and lower court officials. But climb the narrow spiral staircase and you come to the magnificent upper floor where the royal family and its courtiers worshipped.

Sainte-Chapelle Paris

One of the world’s largest collections of stained glass windows

Here is one of the largest collections of 13th century stained glass of anywhere in the world. There are 15 dazzling windows, separated by slender columns soaring almost 15 metres to a star-studded ceiling.

The windows portray more than 1000 Biblical scenes. Starting from the left, near the entrance, and going clockwise, you can trace the scriptures from Genesis through to the Crucifixion and the Apocalypse. There is also a large Rose window at one end of the room.

The building was badly damaged during the French Revolution and then used to store flour, but renovations have been ongoing since the 1900s.

The Sainte-Chapelle has been a national historic monument since 1862. Concerts of classic music are now held there regularly to take advantage of the building’s superb acoustics.

And if the mention of flour above has made you hungry, check out this Middle Eastern bread recipe on my cooking blog.

Sainte-Chapelle column

Base of column between windows

Rose window, Sainte-Chapelle

Rose window

26 Comments

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  1. suchled / Sep 11 2015 8:05 am

    It is almost beyond belief. Modern craftsmen have a lot to aim for and I think they will never reach those heights.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Sep 11 2015 2:58 pm

      I think you’re right, although I have examples of some fine contemporary Australian woodwork that I’ll have to post when I get home.

      Like

  2. Midwestern Plant Girl / Sep 11 2015 8:48 am

    Wow! So amazing.
    I love the stained glass.

    Like

  3. Vicki / Sep 11 2015 9:09 am

    Stunning!

    Like

  4. Amanda (@lambsearshoney) / Sep 11 2015 9:23 am

    Lordy! We’ll be in Paris in a couple of weeks time, so gorgeous church this is now on the itinerary!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Sep 11 2015 2:59 pm

      Really worth the time. Buy a combo ticket that includes the Conciergerie (coming soon here).

      Like

  5. weezaj / Sep 11 2015 9:24 am

    OH WOWEY ZOWEY!!!

    Like

  6. Laurie / Sep 11 2015 9:32 am

    Amazingly beautiful.

    Like

  7. luckyjc007 / Sep 11 2015 11:52 am

    The photos are absolutely beautiful…to see this in person must be breathtaking!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Sep 11 2015 3:01 pm

      Aw thanks, but I had great stuff to work with. Really amazing to see in person.

      Like

  8. priyankamoraes / Sep 11 2015 2:21 pm

    Absolutely awe struck by the pictures ! Wonderful bit of information too. Loved your post !

    Like

  9. afterthelasttime / Sep 11 2015 4:48 pm

    You’ve done a terrific job here describing and showing off this awesome church! I distinctly remember learning about it in Cultural Geography class at KSC however your photos are quite superior to those shown then And your descriptions quite susinct!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Sep 11 2015 5:38 pm

      Oh my goodness, thanks so much for the high praise.

      Like

  10. Jane / Sep 11 2015 5:28 pm

    Amazing detail here. I think they’re probably the most elaborate stained glass windows I’ve seen in pics. Beautiful shots!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Sep 11 2015 5:39 pm

      The windows are really breathtaking. Now I wish I’d taken some close-ups.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. anna / Sep 11 2015 7:17 pm

    I never got here, a real shame. Love those windows!

    Like

  12. blondieaka / Sep 11 2015 11:02 pm

    Oh wow how beautiful such artistry just love it…am now off to check out the bread 🙂

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Sep 12 2015 3:36 am

      The craftsmanship is truly extraordinary. The bread’s not bad either. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. thegreyeye / Sep 12 2015 5:33 pm

    Wow, I have not been there, its amazing

    Like

  14. lulu / Sep 13 2015 10:42 pm

    One of my favorite places. If I remember correctly, the stained glass windows were removed and stored until WW II was over so they wouldn’t be damaged.

    Like

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