About Sainte Chapelle Architecture

Saint-Chapelle, located in the heart of Paris, near Notre Dame, is like an enchanting dream of pure white. It is actually a combination of two Chapelles, the lower Chapelle and the upper Chapelle and is known for its grandeur of Rayonnant Gothic style architecture. As with every monument in this architecture, the Sainte Chapelle Architecture is characterized by an extreme degree of illumination through stained glass walls along with the appearance of structural lightness.

Everywhere you look, you will find the stained glass filtering lights in coloured hues with the glasses teemed with pictures. Tall and elegant windows with these glasses have been separated by slender pillars to create a magnificent effect of total transparency. The windows consist of 15 panels and a large rose window with 82 stained glass petals. Each of the panels tells a story from the Bible and how King Louis IX bought the relics into the chapelle.

The Rayonnant Gothic style architecture includes lots of decorative elements and this too can be visible at the Sainte-Chapelle. You will be able to witness these in the Steeple, the Western facade as well as the lower and upper chapelles. You will also find several beautiful sculptures which have been recreated after they were destroyed during the French Revolution. A few major works include a tympanum over the portal of the upper chapel, a figure of Christ giving a blessing, with John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary alongside him with two angels holding the crown of thorns and cross behind him, sculpted biblical scenes from the Old Testament and more.

Architecture of Sainte-Chapelle


The Steeple of the Sainte Chapelle Architecture which can be witnessed today is 108 feet high and is the fifth one to rise above the Chapelle since the 13th century. It was built in the 15th century and was renovated with wooden carvings in cedar wood between 1853 to 1855. While visiting the Chapelle, you will be able to witness the wood carvings which have decorated the steeple and also the apse angel and has apostles sculpted at the base. You will also be able to see figurines of angels carrying the instruments of passion and giving trumpet calls above the hollowed-out ornamental gables.

Western Facade
Western Facade

The Sainte Chapelle Architecture of the western facade constitutes a two-storeyed porch with a large central bay with two narrow ones on each of its sides. Overlooking the porch is the famous rose window with its 82 petals. There is a balustrade with fleurs de lis at the base of the gable with the initials of Charles VII carried by two kneeling angels. Proceeding towards the western mass, you will find it enclosed by a turret staircase concealed in the nave's first buttresses with the pyramidal top decorated with the crown of Thorns and the royal crown of France.

The Lower Chapel
The Lower Chapel

The lower chapel was one of the two chapels that formed the Sainte-Chapelle and were devoted to the Virgin Mary. This chapel was used by the non-royal inhabitants of the Royal Palace including the people who worked for the royalty. The chapel in its architecture resembled a crypt with its height beneath the vault only 21 feet.

It consisted of a central nave of 20 feet wide and narrow 7 feet side aisles forming the ambulatory of the apse. The portal of the chapel has the column statue of the Virgin Mary and is decorated along with other decorations of the chapel in themes of columns, sculptures and murals. The stained glass window of the current day is dedicated to the life of the Virgin with small scenes inscribed in a decorative grisaille in the nave.

The Upper Chapel
The Upper Chapel

The Upper Chapel which was used by the king and the royal family can be reached today by narrow corkscrew staircases which lead to the roof. The roof is spectacular with its elevated structure, dimensions, decoration and multi-coloured light streaming through its stained glass windows. The rest of the structure is a simple rectangle with four traverses and an apse in the east end along with seven bays of windows. The wall of the Upper Chapel is non-existent. Instead, there are multi-colour slim glass surfaces with elegant stonework supporting the ribbed vaulting. There is a total of 7,200 sq ft of glass, without considering the rose window at the west end.

Sainte-Chapelle's Stained Glass
Sainte-Chapelle's Stained Glass

One of the reasons for the fame of the Sainte Chapelle Construction is its homogeneous group of stained glass windows. There are fifteen stained glass windows that were constructed in the thirteenth century and there is the rose window which was added in the fifteenth century. The multi-coloured stained glasses cause infinite fracturing of the colors to produce a multi-coloured light with general tones predominantly in blue and red and changing from hour to hour. There are 1,113 figurative panels in these glass windows. The stained glasses have scenes painted on them.


The Sainte Chapelle Facts state that most of the sculptures of the portals were destroyed during the French Revolution but were later recreated between 1855 to 1870, using the 18th-century engravings and descriptions. One of the major works recreated during that time was the tympanum over the portal of the upper chapel. The sculpture was that of a figure of Christ giving a blessing, with John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary alongside him with two angels holding the crown of thorns and cross behind him. Other notable ones include the sculpted biblical scenes from the Old Testament including the Creation and Noah's ark, on the panels on lower walls.

Construction of Sainte-Chapelle

It was in 1238, that St Louis founded a one-storey palatine chapel adjoining the chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. This is where probably the upper Chapelle is probably based currently. The Sainte Chapelle Construction included two stories of identical surface areas with different heights, having a precise function. In total, the surface area of the place is 56 feet wide and 118 feet long. Its height excluding the steeple is 139 feet, placing it at the forefront of all the cathedrals in France with Gothic architecture.

Records imply that the work on the Chappelle had already begun in May 1244 and by January 1246, the king commissioned a college of master chaplains to create a deacon and a sub-deacon for protecting his relics and also for maintaining the displays and stained glass windows. Then in 1248, the Chapelle was formally consecrated.

Sainte Chapelle Facts

Sainte Chapelle Facts
  • The Sainte-Chapelle has been constructed in the “Rayonnant” Gothic architecture style.
  • The construction of the Chapelle was commissioned by King Louis IX of France.
  • The King was very passionate about collecting relics and collected 22 religious relics and had them placed in the Sainte-Chapelle when it was built.
  • One of the Sainte Chapelle Facts states that the chapel is actually made up of 2 chapels. While the upper one was for the king, his relics and the royal family, the lower one was for the common people.
  • It is a Sainte Chapelle Facts that the main focus of the Chapelle is its stained glass window collection that dates back to the 13th century.
  • The upper section of these glass windows features biblical figures from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
  • The rose-stained glass window of the Chapelle was installed in the 15th century and had 82 petals.

Click Here to Book Now:

FAQs About Sainte Chapelle

What kind of architecture is Sainte-Chapelle?

    Sainte Chapelle Architecture is a typical example of the Rayonnant Gothic style architecture - a style which is characterized by an extreme degree of illumination through stained glass walls along with the appearance of structural lightness. Apart from this, decorative elements are of much prominence in Rayonnant structures.

What is special about Sainte-Chapelle?

Who created Sainte-Chapelle?

How old is the Sainte-Chapelle?

Why is Sainte-Chapelle Gothic architecture?

Who was the architect of the Sainte-Chapelle?

What is Sainte Chapelle made out of?

Explore Paris