Sainte Chapelle - History and Facts | History Hit

Sainte Chapelle

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Sainte Chapelle is a stunning 13th Century gothic church and home to the oldest wall painting in Paris.

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About Sainte Chapelle

Sainte Chapelle or the “Holy Chapel” is a gothic church built by Saint Louis in Ile de la Cité in the centre of Paris.

Sainte Chapelle history

The construction of Sainte Chapelle began in 1246 under the orders of King Louis IX, and was carried out with the specific purpose of housing the relics of the Passion of Christ, including the Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the true cross. In fact, even by the time Sainte Chapelle was consecrated on 26 April 1248, at a cost of 40,000 livres, this expense paled in comparison to the 135,000 livres which these relics cost when bought from the Byzantine emperor Baldwin II.

In storing such relics in a magnificent sanctuary, Saint-Louis sought to give Paris and the kingdom of France a definite prestige in the eyes of medieval Europe. The king’s ambition was to make Paris the second capital of Christendom after Rome, a “New Jerusalem”.

During the French Revolution the Sainte-Chapelle was sacked by the Revolutionaries who saw in the shrine a symbol of royalty by divine right. A period of restoration took place between 1841 and 1867 under the direction of Duban and Lassus.

Sainte Chapelle today

The relics are now housed in the Treasury at the Notre Dame Cathedral, but there are still many attractions in Sainte Chapelle. With its two impressive upper and lower chapels and imposing gothic architecture, Sainte Chapelle a top tourist attraction.

Audio tours are available guiding visitors through and explaining the significance of its colourful stained glass windows and statues. In particular, the windows at Sainte Chapelle depict over a thousand images relating to the Old Testament and the Passion of Christ.

Getting to Sainte Chapelle

Sainte-Chapelle is located on the medieval Île de la Cité , one of two tiny islands in the middle of Paris. You’re bound to be around the area during your visit. Whatever your schedule, pop over and take a look at this impressive landmark.

Paris is very well connected by train and the Île de la Cité, which sits at the centre of the city, is no exception. To get there, simply take the line 4 service to Cité, which is the only stop on the Île de la Cité itself. This is also the closest stop to the Notre Dame cathedral. Alternatively, you might like to take an RER B or C service to Gare De Saint-Michel Notre Dame, on the banks of the Seine.

You might like to visit Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame on the same day since they both sit on the Île de la Cité and are within a stone’s throw of each other.

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