This chapel in Paris is located on the Ile de la Cite island in the middle of the River Seine, and called the Saint Chapelle, it was constructed for King Louis for worship and to house religious relics such as the Crown of Thorns, although these are now held a short walk away at the Notre Dame Cathedral. But still retaining much of its original architecture including stained glass windows, it is also close to the Conciergerie, which was the royal palace before it was turned into a prison and you can combine a visit to both of these monuments while on holiday in Paris.
It was back in the 1200s when King Louis IX decided that he wanted a chapel constructed for his own private worship and also somewhere he could keep his religious relics.
The site chosen was on the Ile de la Cite, which is an island located in the River Seine and it was close to the Notre Dame Cathedral and also to La Conciergerie, which is the oldest remaining part of the first palace for the Kings of France.
Construction started in 1246 and being a masterpiece of flamboyant Gothic architecture, it was consecrated on 26th April 1248.
When you get to visit the Saint Chapelle chapel, you will discover that the lower chapel has the oldest wall painting in Paris, but it is the upper chapel with its vaulted ceiling that is really impressive, and it was this floor that was reserved for the King and his court.
In fact, it was also here that he placed the religious relics he had purchased, including probably the most famous religious relic in the world called the Crown of Thorns, which is now held at the Notre Dame Cathedral.
But what else can you discover? Well, miraculously, two thirds of the stained glass windows are the originals from when the chapel was first constructed, and this is because many of the windows were covered with cabinets during the French Revolution, and so these got spared from being destroyed.
However, many of the original relics did get destroyed and those that remain, as we mentioned above, are now held at Notre Dame Cathedral within the Treasury.
But like of the old monuments in Paris, there has still had to be restoration work undertaken and the Gothic revival architect, Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc produced a replica of the 15th century spire that had been destroyed in the French Revolution, and this enormous spire made out of cedar is over 30 metres high and was constructed in the 19th century.
Now, when you decide to visit the Ile de la Cite, there are many different tourist attractions in Paris located on this island and very close to the Saint Chapelle is the Conceiergerie, as we mentioned earlier.
But this in itself is a very fascinating place to visit, as although it was the first Royal Palace in Paris, it was turned into a prison and this is where Marie Antoinette was detained before she met her death via the guilotine at the Place de la Concorde.
And you can purchase a combined ticket to visit both the Saint Chapelle and the Conciergerie at the same time, which does save quite a bit of money, although children under the age of 18 can get free entry when accompanied by an adult.
But we would like to point out that the Saint Chapelle chapel is actually controlled by the Gendarmerie, or French police, so you may be checked upon entry and no sharp objects including scissors can be carried.
Also if you wanted to see the religious relics like the Crown of Thorns, then you would need to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, and although a normal visit is free, you do have to pay to visit the treasury, which is now a museum in its own right.
As for getting to the Ile de la Cite island, even though it is in the middle of the river Seine, it is very easy to reach and is serviced by buses, the tour buses such as l'Open Tour, the Batobus water bus and the metro, plus, if you are feeling a little more energetic, you can take a stroll over one of the bridges spanning the River Seine from either the left or right bank.
However, whatever time of year you are on holiday in Paris, you are sure to be able to visit this monument, as the Saint Chapelle only closes on national French holidays, and if you want to learn more about its history, architecture, etc, then there are guide booklets available in numerous different languages including English, German, Spanish, etc.
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www.eutouring.com Published by Kate Davis - European traveller and author of travel to guides to Paris holidays along with research for French monuments, tourist attractions, museums and much more by helping people to get the most out of a holiday in Paris.
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