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Château de Vincennes & The Sainte-Chapelle (on the right), Paris

The Château de Vincennes is a castle at the eastern edge of central Paris. It was used as a royal residence from the 12th century until the 18th century, when the king moved to the Versailles Palace.

Origins

The origin of the castle go back all the way to 1150 when Louis VII built a hunting lodge here which was soon expanded. The actual castle - originally a fortress - was built about a century later, including the impressive donjon. At 52 meters, it is still Europe's tallest Donjon. In 1410 the fortress was walled in by an enceinte no less than 1200 meters long, lined with 9 towers, originally up to 42 meters high.
By that time, construction of a chapel - modeled on the Sainte-Chapelle - was started. The chapel with magnificent stained glass windows was completed after a long 182 years, in 1552.

The Sainte-Chapelle

Founded in 1379, the Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel), whose construction started just before the death of Charles V in 1380, was inaugurated only in 1552 under the reign of Henry II, after a long interruption of the building work starting at the beginning of 15th century. The Collège de Chanoines was set up in February 1380.
The Sainte-Chapelle of Vincennes was intended to house part of the relics of the Passion, like the chapel of the Palais de la Cité in Paris. Through the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle, Charles V wished to turn Vincennes into a second capital of the kingdom, alongside the Palais de la Cité in Paris. The traditional old Parisian palace remained but, at Vincennes, in an appropriate and grandiose setting boldly asserting the ideology of a triumphant monarchy through its quality, opulence and décor, a new capital was born.

The Sainte-Chapelle was built in keeping with the traditional plan of castle chapels: a single nave, a choir formed by a straight bay and a five-sided apse flanked by two oratories – one for the King and the other for the Queen.
An annex, on the north side, serves as the sacristy on the ground floor and treasure-house on the upper floor. The King's oratory is currently occupied by the tomb of the Duke of Enghien, who was judged at Vincennes and shot in the south moat of the castle in 1804.
The general elevation is very simple. Outside, above a basement, deep buttresses support large gabled windows. As a whole, the building has a slender silhouette which used to be further emphasised by a spire which rose above the second bay of the nave.

Royal Residence

While the Louvre was their main residence, royals often sojourned at the Chateau de Vincennes. It was the site of many important occasions such as royal marriages and no less than three kings were born here. The king often resided in an apartment in the Donjon, especially during troubled times such as the religious wars and the 100 Year War.

During the 16th and 17th century the Vincennes castle continued to be expanded, with an emphasis on turning the fortress into a residential palace. During this period, several residential pavilions were added to the south of the Donjon and the royal court now often resided in Vincennes. This however changed in 1671, when King Louis XIV decided to move to the just completed Versailles Palace. The Louvre Palace in the center of Paris was abandoned a year later.

After the royals

When the chateau was abandoned by the royal family, it became the site of the Vincennes Porcelain factory and then served as a state prison, housing such infamous personalities as Diderot and the Marquis de Sade. Napoleon used it as an arsenal in 1840 it was in use as a military fortress. Most of the tall towers around the castle were leveled of during that period.
Today the Chateau de Vincennes is a museum. Its grounds can be freely accessed while the buildings can be visited on a guided tour. (Source: aviewoncities/paris)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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