Built between 1242 and 1248, the Sainte-Chapelle is a splendid example of Flamboyant French Gothic architecture located within the Palais de Cité or law courts, right on the Île de la Cité in Paris. This most exquisite monument is best visited on a sunny day to see all the light-filled glory of its stunning stained glass windows.
Originally built by Louis IX to house his personal collection of holy relics (now on display at Cathedral de Notre-Dame), this royal chapel consists of two sanctuaries built on top of each other. The small exterior is considered a strong example of Rayonnant Gothic Architecture with an airy sense of space and vertical emphasis with typical characteristics including pinnacles, gables around the roof and vast sub-divided windows. Parts of the interior and exterior were damaged during the French Revolution and the chapel was restored in the 19th century when it was declared a national historic monument in 1862.
While the outside is a magnificent sight, the interior simply takes your breath away. The upper chapel contains 15 massive stained glass windows, of which two-thirds are original, depicting 1,113 scenes from the Old Testament and The Passion of Christ. The windows have only the most delicate of stone framing the images so the vast leadwork really dominates the small space. There is also a large rose window with Flamboyant tracery. Among the finest of their type in the world, the stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle bathe the chapel in exquisite multicoloured light. The lower chapel is decorated with An Annunciation, the oldest painting in Paris, and a richly coloured ceiling which mirrors the opulence and hues of the stained glass windows in the chapel above.
Entry to Sainte-Chapelle is €8.5 for adults and free for those under 18 years of age. To visit the monument, the nearest metro station is Cité. From here, it's a three-minute walk down Quai de la Corse and then left into Boulevard du Palais.