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Saint Chappelle, The Holy Chapel

Visitors may secure a Paris luxury apartment or one of the many comfortable Paris rental apartments as a convenient base from which to explore the famous attractions of the city. Paris holiday apartments offer an opportunity for relaxation amidst the non-stop activity of the City of Light. Whichever accommodation they choose, visitors should add the beautiful Sainte Chapelle, or Holy Chapel, situated on the Ile de la Cite in the heart of Paris, to their list of must-see attractions. 

Construction on the chapel started some time between 1239 and 1242, under the sponsorship of King Louis IX. The king intended it to serve as a repository for precious holy relics, including Christ’s crown of thorns. The relics themselves cost Louis more than three times the construction cost of the building. The chapel, completed in 1248, was originally part of the royal palace. The palace itself has disappeared, and the chapel is now virtually surrounded by the Palais de Justice. 

Sainte Chapelle exists as a prime example of the Rayonnant style of Gothic architecture, which sought to convey a sense of weightlessness to the observer. The reduced supports and huge expanses of stained glass in vivid reds and blues contribute to the feeling of airiness. The stained glass is considered by many to be the best of its type. Especially beautiful are the rose windows of the upper chapel, added in the 15th century. The identity of the chapel’s architect remains in question, though many believe it to be Pierre de Montreuil.

The French Revolution saw destruction of a great part of the chapel in the late 18th century, though nearly two-thirds of the original windows survive. Revolutionaries converted the chapel to an administrative office and inadvertently protected the windows from vandalism by obscuring them with file cabinets. Many of the relics disappeared, though some now reside at Notre Dame Cathedral. The chapel was restored in 1855, using original drawings as guides. Sainte Chapelle was designated a national historic monument in 1862.

During the peak tourist season of March through October, the chapel is open every day between 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Opening hours the rest of the year are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The chapel is closed between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on week days, and it is closed all day on January 1, May 1 and December 25. The last tickets are sold 30 minutes before closing.