La Sainte-Chapelle

The Sainte-Chapelle, is located in the courtyard of the royal palace on the Île de la Cité. It was built to house precious relics: Christ’s crown of thorns, the Image of Edessa and thirty other relics of Christ that had been in the possession of Louis IX since August 1239 and I think it’s the prettiest church in Paris despite being so small and completely dwarfed by the nearby Notre Dame.

The beautiful paintings and many lovely stain glass windows give a cheery feel despite being of Gothic design.  The royal chapel was a prime exemplar of the developing culminating phase of Gothic architectural style called “Rayonnant” that achieved a sense of weightlessness.

It is definitely a must see when in Paris and it’ll be wise to go early as the queue to enter can be quite long. You’ll also be subjected to security checks. The building was often seen as both a religious and political symbol as it is said that the king chose to have the church built inside the Royal Palace to stress a close relationship between the sacred relics and the monarchy.

But today, the royal palace has been replaced by the Palais de Justice, the Paris courthouse. It is common to see lawyers and judges going in and out about their daily business.

The Palais also contains the ancient structure of the Conciergerie, a former prison, now a museum, where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before being executed on the guillotine.

The exterior includes sculptural work by sculptor Jean-Marie Bonnassieux.


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