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The Holy Chapel

Visiting the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris is a must see for admirers of this architectural type. This gem of Gothic architecture is located on the Île de la Cité, in the heart of Paris.
The Sainte-Chapelle was built in the 13th century under the order of Louis IX, also known as Saint Louis. It was intended to house relics of the Passion of Christ, acquired by the king from the emperor of Constantinople, Baldwyn II.

His history...

The Sainte Chapelle was erected at the request of Louis IX, a monarch renowned for his piety and devotion, better known as Saint Louis. This chapel was erected within the walls of the Palais de la Cité, a royal residence located on the Île de la Cité, in the heart of Paris.

In the 13th century, the French King Louis IX, also known as Saint Louis, undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he acquired precious relics of the Passion of Christ, including the Holy Crown of Thorns, the Holy Lance and a piece of the True Cross. On his return to France, he decided to build a building to house them and chose the site of the current Sainte-Chapelle, located within the walls of the Palais de la Cité, a royal residence at the time.

To finance the construction of the building, Louis IX called for donations and used his own fortune. He also called on renowned craftsmen and artists, such as the architect Pierre de Montreuil and the master glassmaker Jean de Chelles, to carry out his ambitious project.

The relics were transported from the Holy Land to Constantinople, where Louis IX acquired them from Emperor Baldwyn II. They were then transported to France and temporarily placed in the chapel of the Château de Vincennes, before being transferred to the Sainte-Chapelle after its construction.

The presence of these relics of the Passion of Christ made the Sainte-Chapelle an important place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages, attracting many faithful from all over Europe to venerate the precious relics. Even today, the Sainte-Chapelle remains an architectural and religious jewel, testifying to the piety and prestige of the Capetian dynasty.

The architect Pierre de Montreuil was responsible for designing and directing the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle. This ambitious undertaking was carried out in record time, since the chapel was completed in just seven years, between 1241 and 1248.

The stained glass windows of the Sainte-Chapelle...


They are marvels of art and technique. They are among the finest examples of 13th century stained glass art in France and are considered one of the building's main treasures. The stained glass windows were created in two work campaigns: the first between 1243 and 1248, and the second between 1258 and 1260.

The stained glass windows of the Sainte-Chapelle are remarkable for several reasons. First of all, their size is exceptional: they measure almost 15 meters high, which is almost the total height of the building. Then, their composition is very elaborate: the scenes represented are arranged in several registers, with characters, animals and decorative elements. Each stained glass window is therefore a true work of art in itself.

The iconography of the stained glass windows of the Sainte-Chapelle is also very rich. It mainly focuses on religious and historical themes, such as the life of Christ, episodes from the Old Testament or the lives of the saints. Each scene is finely crafted and the details are rendered with great precision.

The colors of the stained glass windows are also remarkable. They are very luminous and vibrant, which gives an impression of lightness and transparency. Blues, reds and yellows are particularly used, but green, purple and white are also found. The stained glass windows of the Sainte-Chapelle are therefore a true festival of colors and lights.

The stained glass windows of the Sainte-Chapelle are also remarkable for their manufacturing technique. The glasses are blown, cut and assembled using an ancestral technique. The colors are obtained using metallic pigments incorporated into the molten glass. The leads that hold the glass pieces together are very thin and discreet, which gives an impression of fragility and delicacy.

They are a true artistic and technical treasure and bear witness to the extraordinary know-how of 13th century artisans and their ability to create works of great beauty and complexity.

Le Louvre à travers le temps

The architecture of the Sainte Chapelle

The chapel is made up of two levels. The lower level was once intended for the king's servants and servants, while the upper level was reserved for the royal family.


The upper chapel is the most remarkable architectural element of the whole. It is made up of 15 high windows, each measuring more than 15 meters in height, thus forming a real wall of light which floods the space. The stained glass windows, mostly of medieval origin, represent scenes from the Old and New Testaments as well as scenes from the lives of the saints. These stained glass windows, whose colors are particularly luminous, create a unique atmosphere which does not fail to impress visitors. 

This rectangular worship room is characterized by its exceptional height of 20 meters, its carved wooden ceiling and its large bay windows. These occupy most of the walls and allow abundant natural light to enter the chapel. The stained glass windows, considered one of the finest examples of Gothic stained glass in the world, are composed of more than 1,000 scenes from the Bible and the lives of saints.

The ornamentation of the Sainte-Chapelle is impressive. The columns, vaults and walls are richly decorated with sculptures and floral motifs. The walls of the upper chapel are covered with paintings and golden ornaments. The furniture, although largely lost over the centuries, is also considered exceptional. The throne of Louis IX was located in the upper chapel, next to the relic of the Holy Cross.

The Sainte-Chapelle also houses many decorative elements, such as sculptures, tapestries and murals. Among the most remarkable are the sculptures representing the Apostles and the Evangelists, as well as the 14th century tapestries depicting scenes from the Old Testament. 

Playing scenes:

The stained glass windows of the Sainte-Chapelle represent biblical scenes, mainly linked to the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The scenes are arranged in chronological order, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation.

In the high glass roof, the scenes are dedicated to the Old Testament. The six central bays illustrate the six days of Creation and the separation of light and darkness, the creation of the firmament, the separation of earth and water, the creation of plants and trees, the creation of the sun and the moon, and finally, the creation of animals and man.

The side bays show the stories from Genesis, including the episodes of Adam and Eve and Noah. The two bays on the facade represent the Life of Saint John the Baptist.

In the low glass roof, the scenes are devoted to the New Testament, beginning with the Nativity and ending with the Passion and the Resurrection. The side bays show the stories of the saints, including those of the apostles and Saint Louis. The two bays on the facade illustrate the Life of the Virgin.

The scenes are represented with great finesse and a wealth of detail, characteristic of the radiant Gothic style. The characters are finely drawn and the bright colors give an impression of lightness and movement. The Passion scenes are particularly moving, with poignant details such as the nails on the cross and the tears on the disciples' faces.

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Address of the Sainte Chapelle

10 Bd du Palais, 75001 Paris

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