The Saint-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) is one of Paris’s older landmarks that really brings the Rayonnant stage of French Gothic architecture to life. (Rayonnant being the french word for radiant, making reference to the emphasis of stain glass windows being incorporated in the gothic architecture of that period.) As you walk through the doors of the chapel be prepared for the most exquisite details you’ve ever seen on windows before in your life.
No-one is very sure how long it took exactly to build the Saint-Chapelle nor when construction started, the only thing consistent throughout historian literature is that it was consecrated and opened to the public in 1248. Being situated within the Palais de la Cite, Palace of the city, where all French royalty lived up until the 14th century, it was designed to home very precious, important Christian relics such as the thorn crown Jesus wore when he died as well as a fragment of the cross he was nailed to. Not only because of the sentimental value of the items but also for political reasons. It was believed that the French Royals thought there was a connection between the holy items and the monarchy itself, how attaining the items was only appropriate for those with royal blood as it was God sent. Today the thorn crown is housed at the Notre-Dame, which is only a few minutes away. Regardless of the beliefs, the Saint-Chapelle is a glorious example of the mix of religious faith and the arts, holding so much history within its walls it would be ridiculous to overlook it when touring Paris.
The Saint-Chapelle is filled with light and color from its 1,113 stain glass windows that stand almost from the floor to the ceiling that not only depicts in picture form the scenes from the new and old testaments, but also the journey from whence the Christian relics came from, a dedication out of this world. The stain glass windows are seen to be the most spectacular ones from that particular era. Embraced by all the beautiful colors that shine down upon you, it’s only natural to be entirely intrigued with this magnificent building.
The Saint-Chapelle, whilst residing within the Palais de la Cite, is located on the Île de la Cite in the center of the city allowing easy access to tourists who wish to view the masterpiece. Today the Saint-Chapelle is considered a museum, containing some of the finest examples of medieval art and architecture, with the chapel being, considered by many, a piece of art on its own.
TIMES AND PRICES
The open hours to view the Saint-Chapelle differ according to the season, in summer (From April to September) it is open from 9 am until 7 pm, whilst in winter (From October to March) it is open from 9 am until 5 pm. Admission costs €10 regularly but are free if you are between the ages of 18-25 and a member of the EU. The busiest period is between 11 am and 5 pm during the weekend, so if you want to avoid the crowds it would be advisable to go earlier or during the week.