La Sainte Chappelle on the Ile de la Cite is hemmed in by buildings on all sides which adds to the sense of a pinched structure that is being forced upwards. Its external appearance however gives no clue to the magnificence of its internal decoration.
It was built in 1248 by Louis IX (Saint Louis) to house two relics that he had bought from the Emperor of Byzantium, the Crown of Thorns and fragments of the True Cross.
The 15 recently restored, soaring Gothic stained glass windows depict over 1,000 religious scenes and the light filtering through the rich colours in the glass creates an atmosphere of enchantment.
The strong colours and detail of the individual images is very impressive, but there are so many images and most of them not easily seen, that it almost discourages looking at the detail. Again and again you are forced back to try and absorb the cumulative effect of this extravagant decoration:
The rose window over the main royal entrance, for example, is quite breathtaking, but it’s impossible to see the detail:
La Sainte Chappelle is very beautiful but all a bit overwhelming to take in at one go. I liked focusing in on some of the detail:
My favourite detail is these two angels on the central column between the royal entrance doors. Why are they smiling?
Finally, right next door to La Sainte Chappelle is a site familiar to fans of the French TV series Les Engrenages (Spiral), the Palais de Justice.