Located on the charming Île de la Cité in the River Seine, Sainte-Chapelle is among the most splendid monuments in Paris. This Gothic-styled mediaeval building served as the royal chapel of the French kings during the 14th century and is renowned for its spectacular architecture. While there are a plethora of things to marvel at inside Sainte-Chapelle, the most remarkable feature remains its stained glass windows.
Almost every inch of the monument is covered with beautiful stained glass making you feel as if you have stepped into a kaleidoscope. However, when you look closely at the 15 windows, which stand roughly 50 feet tall, you’ll notice there is much more to them than just a beautiful mix of colours. The dazzling stained glass windows depict 1,113 different scenes from the holy scriptures as well as how the sacred relics, such as the Crown of Thorns, arrived in Paris. Although Sainte-Chapelle is no longer in use as a church, it remains a magnificent national landmark with one of the world's largest 13th-century stained glass collections.
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You must visit the Sainte-Chapelle when there is ample daylight to capture the beauty of the stained glass windows as they are not artificially lit. While Sainte-Chapelle welcomes visitors throughout the year, its windows create different effects during different seasons. During summers, which is a more popular tourist season, the hues of red and blue shift in the sunlight every hour. On the other hand, during winters, all the Sainte Chapelle stained glass windows receive equal amounts of natural light, creating a more harmonised effect.
Although there is no recorded documentation of who designed this architectural masterpiece, historians believe it was most likely completed by Pierre de Montreuil. Montreuil was a well-known architect in 13th-century Paris, believed to be responsible for the construction of notable monuments such as Notre Dame Cathedral and the Basilica of Saint-Denis.
Some common features that each of these monuments share are the Gothic architectural style and the extensive use of stained glasses. As a result, it is commonly assumed that all three structures were designed by the same person, Pierre de Montreuil.
The construction of Sainte-Chapelle was commissioned by the French King Louis IX in the 13th century to preserve his invaluable holy relics. Since the chapel is such an ancient structure, it had to be restored multiple times over its history.
The stained glass windows, like other sections of the church, have been renovated multiple times. For example, the rose window was rebuilt in 1495 and opened to the public in 2016. Similarly, the lateral stained glass windows were extensively restored in 1765. The vibrant windows were maintained and restored throughout the twentieth century. The northern windows and the rose window were restored to their present condition in 2007.
All Saint-Chapelle stained glass windows were removed for safety purposes during both World Wars.
While the 15 stained glass windows that measure 50 feet in height date back to the 13th century, the rose window is from the 15th century.
Sainte-Chapelle has the world's largest collection of stained glass belonging to the 13th century.
All stained glass windows at Saint-Chapelle include only five colours: blue, yellow, purple, red, and green.
14 out of 15 Saint-Chapelle stained glass windows are dedicated to Biblical narrations of Genesis, the creation of the planet, Adam and Eve, Jesus Christ, and so on. However, one of them depicts the history of the chapel, illustrating how King Louis IX collected the holy relics and brought them to Paris.
If you want to read the story narrated through the windows in sequential order, you need to begin from the left wall showcasing Genesis and follow through the right, which ends at the Book of Esther and the Book of Kings.
The Sainte Chapelle stained glass windows were originally designed to help illiterate people in reading stories from the Bible simply by looking at the illustrations.
The rose window of Sainte-Chapelle was installed in the 15th century and contains 82 petals. A similar window can be seen in Notre Dame Cathedral as well.
stained glass windows showcase scenes from both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
How many stained glass windows are in the Sainte-Chapelle?
Sainte-Chapelle has over a thousand stained glass windows. However, the most prominent ones are 15, each of which stands at a height of around 50 feet and depicts scenes from the Bible.
Is photography of the stained glass windows permitted at Sainte Chapelle?
Yes, you can click pictures of the iconic stained glass windows of Sainte Chapelle. However, flash photography and the use of selfie sticks and tripods are not allowed.
How do I get to Sainte-Chapelle?
Sainte-Chapelle is easily accessible via train, metro, and bus. If you are travelling by bus, get on those with route numbers 21, 27, 38, 85, and 96. When travelling by train, take RER B or C and stop at the Saint-Michel stop. You may also get on metro lines 1,7,11, or 14 to reach the Châtelet station.
How long does it take to complete a Sainte Chapelle visit?
You can explore the entire Sainte Chapelle within an hour.
What is the best time to visit Sainte Chapelle?
The best time to visit Sainte-Chapelle if you want to avoid crowds is during early mornings or late afternoons. However, to enjoy the best lighting, make sure you arrive when there is ample daylight.
What are Sainte Chapelle hours?
Saint-Chapelle is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.