The Sainte-Chapelle is absolutely one of the greatest masterpieces of European Gothic art, of such visual impact that in the Middle Ages the faithful called it the gateway to Paradise.
Commissioned by Louis IX to house his personal collection of relics, including the Holy Crown (currently housed in Notre-Dame), the Sainte Chapelle is still one of Paris’ must-see attractions.
If you are lucky enough to visit it on a radiant sunny day, you will feel as if you have stepped into a magical kaleidoscope : the 15 stained glass windows that surround it, rising 15 metres up to the vaulted ceiling, create incredible light and colour effects that envelop the interior and visitors.
The stained glass windows narrate 1113 biblical scenes using all shades of reds, blues, golds, greens and mauves, all embellished and enriched with statues, capitals, ornaments, angels and inlaid leaves: a true masterpiece that will leave you breathless and speechless.
You can visit the two levels of the Sainte Chapelle, the lower one intended for palace servants and the upper one reserved for the King and the royal family.
We recommend you visit the chapel on a fine sunny day to fully enjoy its amazing stained glass windows and don’t forget to take the brochure to follow the development of the scenes depicted in detail.
Built in just seven years, between 1241 and 1248, the Sainte-Chapelle was commissioned by King Louis IX to house the most precious relic in Christendom: the crown of thorns of Jesus Christ. The monarch commissioned Pierre de Montreuil to build a special showcase to preserve this priceless treasure.
A great fan of relics, King Louis IX also added a fragment of the cross of Jesus to his collection. The chapel was meant to represent in the eyes of the international scene the influence and great power of France and its monarch over Western Christendom.
The Sainte Chapelle protected and guarded the crown of thorns until the French Revolution: after several acts of vandalism, the relic was later moved to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame where it remained until the fire that broke out on 15 April 2019 from which, fortunately, it was saved.
Today, the chapel is part of the Palais de Justice complex and its access is strictly controlled with limited visits.
The Sainte-Chapelle is one of the world’s greatest Gothic masterpieces, an absolute marvel that leaves tourists speechless.
The chapel was built on two levels reflecting social hierarchies: the lower level was dedicated to the people and the upper level was the exclusive preserve of the royal family. The lower chapel is made up of three naves, while the upper one is adorned with marvellous vaults, embellished with a spectacular shade of blue with golden lilies that recalls the coats of arms of the sovereigns of France.
The real marvel of the Sainte-Chapelle are the spectacular stained-glass windows, which on a sunny day, will make you literally gasp in awe. A great example of craftsmanship and the art of glassmaking, these masterpieces are set in a magical interplay of arches and vaulted ceilings: they entirely cover 15 windows that are a full 15 metres high.
These incredible polychrome stained-glass windows create a play of light that is reflected inside the church, contributing to a magical and suffused atmosphere. With the glow of the sun’s rays, you can admire the biblical iconography: in fact, the stained glass windows depict 113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments, telling the story of the world up to the arrival of the relics in Paris. It is a sort of colourful history of the Bible, narrated on the windows like a film flowing before the viewers’ eyes.
After extensive restoration work, which removed the stains of time and smog, the Sainte Chapelle now shines in all its magnificence. Please note that the best time of day to watch the spectacle of the sunlit stained glass windows is early in the morning or in the late afternoon before sunset.
You can buy your ticket online and skip the queues at the ticket office.
Combination tickets with other attractions or activities are also available, saving on the total cost.
The Sainte-Chapelle is located on the Ile de la Cité, in the historical heart of Paris, a stone’s throw from the Seine and can be easily reached by public transport.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.