Paris – The Splendid Stained Glass Of Sainte Chapelle

The stained glass windows of Sainte Chapelle, on the Île de la Cité in Paris, are a sight to behold.

Fifteen such windows surround the nave and apse of the second floor chapel with a huge rose window at the opposite end. Two thirds of the 600 sq meters (6,458 square feet) of glass is supposedly original, making this the most complete surviving example of 12th century glass craftsmanship. An amazing depiction of the story of humanity as told by the old and new testaments in an incredible play of light and colour!

If you know of anyone who has stood on the top of that narrow spiral staircase and not gasped in awe, he/she is certifiably blind.

Stained Glass windows

Sainte Chapelle was built in 1248 as a reliquary to house and display a portion of the crown of thorns and a piece of the original cross among other relics bought by King Louis IX (St. Louis) from the Byzantine emperor, for a price that was reputed to be more than three times the cost of the building.

The chapel suffered damage during the French revolution and the relics were lost. (The crown of thorns was subsequently recovered and is displayed every Friday in the treasury of the Notre Dame) Thankfully, the stained-glass was put in storage when the building was used as an archive. It was faithfully restored in the 19th century.

Happy travels, no matter where life takes you.

Posted by

Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

97 thoughts on “Paris – The Splendid Stained Glass Of Sainte Chapelle

  1. You are so right about these being jaw-dropping splendid! I am always in awe of the skills which put these magnificent pieces together – the detail, the symmetry and then the light hits those beautiful colours! Lovely shots Madhur!

    1. The crown of thorns is now in the Notre Dame and I believe it is displayed in the treasury every Friday (daily during Lent). Thanks Cathy

  2. What a fitting choice, Madhu! I distinctly remember that sense of awe that washed over me when I visited back in 2006… sadly there were no pictures to tell the tale!

    1. Amazing wasn’t it? I have just these few pictures too. The panoramic views came out too dark with my point and shoot.

  3. I had to grin over your title here, Madhu. I just replied to your comment on my blog and mentioned your “splendid images” in passing. And here I fine you’ve used the same word for the stained glass. Sweet. 🙂

  4. The enormity of the windows and the artistry that went into creating them is a testament to a period of “splendor.” This telling of humanity through stained glass was a beautiful choice for splendid and close-up, Madhu. Now I must visit this church.

    1. Oh you absolutely must Lynne, and remember to climb upto the second floor 🙂 I know of people who have come away from there thinking it was unremarkable, and it turned out they didn’t go upstairs!!

  5. This is really beautiful, Madhu. The colours and their complexity are every bit splendid. I have often wondered what a peasant, coming in in the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries, must have made of these towering buildings.

    1. They likely had no idea this existed! Peasants and common folk were restricted to the lower chapel apparently. This one was for the royal family and nobility!

  6. Stunning contribution Madhu, I really love your subject blend with different colors of their Architecture,Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. Splendid windows indeed – I can relate to the scale of splendor by your narrative – it must be breathtakingly beautiful.

  8. Oh yes, aren’t they just ‘jaw droopingly splendid’! One of my most beautiful memories of Paris is an evening I spent at St. Chappelle, at a concert – God help me, I can’t remember the music, or the players, but sitting there, in the blue-hazed gloom, with those jewel-like windows surrounding me … Splendid beyond compare. 🙂

    1. Doubt there can be any disagreement on the splendour of that stained glass! The concert must have been sublime! We went at the wrong time of year unfortunately.

  9. Imagine going to a concert there at twilight, Mozart’s Requiem, everything lit by candlelight.
    Your photos are wonderful.

  10. My husband and I went to a concert there at night, as well. Was amazing listening to the music of Vivaldi and Borodin. Such a beautiful beautiful place and wonderful acoustics.

    1. Can imagine how wonderful that must have been! Thank you for sharing your thoughts Marney. And welcome to my blog 🙂

  11. thank you for posting this! I was at Sainte Chapelle many years ago and my photos (slides actually) are long gone. I was amazed and awe struck by these windows and their history.

    1. The crown is now in the Notre Dame Judy. But you should still go just for the stained glass and maybe catch a concert there!

Let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s