Photographer's Note

It was certainly an excellent idea to revisit The Sainte Chapelle after so many years. We tend to think " Oooh, I've been there already " but do we remember well all details? I think not, so I was happy to be there again , on my third visit, I had my wide angle, and my D300, and here is a picture taken in this dull but exquisite interior. There are two levels and this is the lower one.

The Sainte Chapelle was built to house precious relics: Christ's crown of thorns, the Image of Edessa and thirty other relics of Christ had been in King Louis' hands since August 1239, when it arrived from Venice in the hands of two Dominican friars. Unlike many devout aristocrats, who swiped relics, the saintly Louis bought his precious relics of the Passion, purchased from the Latin emperor at Constantinople, Baldwin II, for the exorbitant sum of 135,000 livres, which was paid to the Venetians, to whom it had been pawned. [1] The entire chapel, by contrast, cost 40,000 livres to build. In 1241 a piece of the True Cross was added, and other relics. Thus the building was like a precious reliquary: even the stonework was painted, with medallions of saints and martyrs in the quatrefoils of the dado arcade, which was hung with rich textiles.[2]

At the same time, it reveals Louis' political and cultural ambition, with the imperial throne at Constantinople occupied by a mere Count of Flanders and with the Holy Roman Empire in uneasy disarray, to be the central monarch of western Christendom. Just as the Emperor could pass privately from his palace into Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, so now Louis could pass directly from his palace into the Sainte Chapelle.

The Saint Chapelle rises above the rooflines of the royal palace. Miniature by the Limbourg brothers, ca 1400The Royal chapel stands squarely upon a lower chapel which served as parish church for all the inhabitants of the palace, which was the seat of government (see "palace"). The king was later granted sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Louis.

The most visually beautiful aspects of the chapel, and considered the best of their type in the world, are its stained glass for which the stonework is a delicate framework, and rose windows added to the upper chapel in the 15th century.

No designer-builder is directly mentioned in archives concerned with the construction, but the name of Pierre de Montreuil, who had rebuilt the apse of the Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis and completed the façade of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris is sometimes connected with the Sainte Chapelle.

Ceiling of the Lower ChapelMuch of the chapel as it appears today is a recreation, although nearly two-thirds of the windows are authentic. The chapel suffered its most grievous destruction in the late eighteenth century, during the French Revolution, when the steeple and baldachin were removed, the relics dispersed, and various reliquaries, including the grande châsse, were melted down. Its exemplary restoration, completed in 1855, is faithful to the original drawings and descriptions of the chapel that survive.

The Sainte Chapelle has been a national historic monument since 1862.


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Additional Photos by izzet keribar (keribar) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1770 W: 135 N: 8833] (43841)
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