Connect with eGuide

Newsletter - weekly travel articles.

Paris attractions
Paris tour

Saint Chapelle

Paris hotels

Saint Chapelle (Holy Chapel) is another important church in the City of Paris that is not far from the better known Notre Dame Cathedral. In fact the approximate distance between the two churches is 350 metres on the Ile de la Cite, (Island of the City). Although much smaller in size and easily missed when you walk by, you should take the time to visit this incredibly beautiful church next to the Palais de Justice, which was once the Parliament of Paris.

The ancient gothic church was built in just five years and completed in the year 1248. The speed in which the church was erected was remarkable given that the Notre Dame Cathedral took nearly 200 years before completion. At the time of its opening, Saint Chapelle, the church housed many of the French royalty's treasures, including the Crown of Thorns, known to be the Holy Crown of Jesus and a fragment of what is alleged to be a piece of the True Cross, the cross in which Jesus Christ was crucified. The monarch who ruled during that time, King Louis IX, purchased these historically important artefacts and other relics for a rumoured excessive amount at the time. But King Louis IX believed that these artefacts from the Crucifixion should be protected and guarded in a safe place. Today the Crown of Thorns, which is now housed in a shrine within the deep confines of the Notre Dame Cathedral, is displayed to the public only on the first Friday of each month and all of the Fridays during the Lent period from Ash Wednesday to Easter.

The church, like the Notre Dame Cathedral, is easily accessibly by the Paris Metro via the RER B and C Lines with the closest stop at St-Michel-Notre-Dame at approximately 250 metres away. Another Paris Metro subway stop is also on the Ile de la Cite and at the properly named Metro station known as Cite. This station is approximately 350 metres away on the #4 Paris Metro line.

Like most of the other top attractions in the City of Paris, queues to visit the church can be quite long but likely not as long as the queues you might expect to see to visit the Gargoyles of Notre Dame or to take the lifts to one of the levels of the Eiffel Tower. Once inside, you will immediately notice the ornate stained glass, which is considered to be the most beautiful stained glass in all of Europe and surpassing even Notre Dame itself. There are 15 pieces of stained glass in all, spanning 600 metres, which depict over 1100 biblical scenes such as the Book of Kings, John the Baptist and the Book of Daniel, the Book of Judges, Exodus and Genesis.

While the main highlights of your visit inside the chapel are the stained glass images, there are other notable attractions to admire. The chapel has two levels, with the first level originally meant for the chapel's servants and the upper level was meant for the King and the king's court.

back to top