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Sainte-Chapelle, Paris France

Updated: Nov 21, 2019



Connections by Avra was in Paris the day that a good portion of Notre Dame went up in flames. The mood was heavy and sad. The city of Paris holds a special place in our hearts and every time we visit the city a trip to this majestic cathedral was also on our list. She will be rebuilt in all her original glory that will require several years. We went back to the site and took some pictures after the fire and you can see the profile of what it looks like just hours after the fire was extinguished. There is another famous cathedral that is not as well known to the first-time traveler and very impressive in its own way; Sainte-Chapelle. On this day we decided to take a walk over and capture her beauty.

Notre Dame was built in 182 years and Sainte-Chapelle was built in a rapid seven-year period!

The Sainte-Chapelle Brief History

Located on Ile-de-la-cite, the island in the middle of the river Seine, the building complex (Palais de la Cite) in which Saint-Chapelle is located was the heart of past Parisian politics and monarchy until the 14th Century. Sainte-Chapelle was originally commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house the crown of thorns of Jesus Christ, seen to be one of the holiest relics in Christianity.

Despite being damaged in the French Revolution (1789-1799), Sainte-Chapelle was restored in the 19th Century and remains one of the most stunning examples of stained glass in the world. The upper chapel itself was originally reserved for the King.

The Sainte-Chapelle Stained Glass Windows

Only five colors are used in the Sainte-Chapelle stained glass windows – blue (from cobalt), red and green (from copper), purple (from manganese) and yellow (from antimony). In the 13th Century, stained glass was cut with a red-hot iron (it would be later cut by diamond).

Once cut, the pieces of colored glass would be painted. Details such as facial expressions and folds in fabric were added with the ‘grisaille’ technique of monochrome painting in shades of grey. This is a mixture of powdered glass and iron oxide, diluted in water and vinegar and applied on to the colored glass with a paint brush. The painted pieces of glass are then fired a second time at 600C to fix the grisaille.

When they had been colored, cut and painted, the pieces of glass were then assembled scene by scene and held together with strips of channeled lead. Finished sections of the stained-glass windows are never very large, to make sure that they don’t collapse under their own weight.

The stained-glass windows are held together using iron bars and rods known as saddlebags. These support the whole window and hold it in place, taking the weight of the upper sections. The ‘vignettes’ are smaller, horizontal bars that strengthen the window from top to bottom.

Reading the Windows of the Sainte-Chapelle Stained Glass

The Saint-Chapelle stained glass windows themselves tell the story of the books of the Bible from Genesis on the left-hand side, right round to the book of Revelation on the Rose window to the rear. Each stained-glass window is made up of over 100 sections of stained glass.

The Sainte-Chapelle stained glass windows are to be read from left to right and top to bottom. The widows numbered 1 to 15 start on the North wall, which is to your left when you enter the chapel.

Interior view of Sainte-Chapelle Paris France
Sainte-Chapelle Paris France

Sainte-Chapelle Dimensions

· The upper chapel is 33m long and 10.5m wide.

· The vaulted ceiling rises to a height of 20.5m

· The stained-glass windows date from 13th Century.

· Each window is 15.5m high in the nave and 13.5m in the apse.

· 1,113 scenes from the Bible are depicted on the windows.

· The rose window, 9m in diameter, dates from 15th Century.

If music is a passion then consider taking in a concert here at the incredibly beautiful Sainte-Chapelle. The natural acoustics create a mesmerizing and peaceful venue to just shut your eyes and listen! The sounds of Vivaldi, Mozart and Bach are just a few famous classical artists that are honored here. Definitely a highlight and shouldn’t be missed!

If you would like more information call our travel agents at Connections by Avra at 800-500-9030 or

Practical information:

Opening hours:

Last admission 30 mins prior to closing (You must give yourself at least 1 ½ for this!)

From 2 January to 31 March: Open every day, 9:00 – 5:00

From 1 April to 30 September: Open every day, 9:00 – 7:00

From 1 October to 31 December: Open every day, 9:00 – 5:00

Closed on 1 January, 1 May, and 25 December

Happy Travels,

Connections by Avra


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