Sainte Chapelle Architecture: Unveiling Hidden Details

By Aashima

Sainte Chapelle is a fantastic building with a long history and beautiful design. 

Nestled in the heart of Paris, France, this structure mesmerizes visitors worldwide. 

Want to know more about the eye-catching architecture of Sainte Chapelle? 

Let’s take a closer look at the unique features of Sainte Chapelle architecture that often go unnoticed when people visit.

A Gothic Gem

In the 13th century, King Louis IX built the Sainte-Chapelle to hold holy Christian objects. 

This architectural masterpiece showcases the Sainte Chapelle Gothic architecture with tall towers, pointed arches, and ribbed ceilings. 

It is a location where you can discover historical information and find inspiration in the magnificence of God’s creation.

1. Sainte-Chapelle Stained Glass Splendor

Sainte-Chapelle Stained Glass Splendor
Image: Hadzhi Hristo Chorbadzhi from Getty Images (Canva)

The stained glass windows of Sainte Chapelle are a sight to behold. 

Stretching towards the heavens, these windows showcase intricate scenes from biblical narratives, breathing life and color into the chapel’s interior. 

The stained glass windows‘ bright blue, red, and gold colors fill the room with a heavenly light, leaving visitors in love with the beautiful craftsmanship.

2. Upper and Lower Chapels

Sainte Chapelle comprises two distinct chapels: the lower and upper chapels. 

The lower chapel served as a place of worship for palace staff, while the upper chapel was exclusively reserved for the king and his court. 

Moreover, the upper chapel’s magnificent stained glass creates an otherworldly atmosphere, drawing the eye to the heavens.

Read our article on Inside Sainte Chapelle to learn what else to see in this Gothic chapel.

3. A Symphony of Sculptures

You can admire the sculptures that adorn the interiors of Sainte Chapelle. 

Crafted with attention to detail, these sculptures bring the stories of the Bible to life. 

The sculptures in Sainte-Chapelle are a testament to the skilled hands of medieval artisans.

4. The Grandeur of the Rose Windows

The Grandeur of the Rose Windows
Image: Demerzel21 from Getty Images (Canva)

The rose windows of Sainte Chapelle are just beautiful! 

Located at the ends of the upper chapel, these circular windows showcase intricate tracery and mesmerizing stained glass. 

Each window tells a story, depicting moments from the Book of Genesis and Exodus. 

As sunlight streams through these magnificent works of art, the chapel is bathed in a kaleidoscope of luminous colors.

5. Painted Decorations: A Testament to Restoration

While the renowned stained glass windows of Sainte Chapelle surprise visitors, the painted decorations amaze them. 

Although the original 13th-century paintings have faded due to flood damage, restoration efforts in the 19th century have brought back their magic and beauty. 

Today, you can witness colors like blue, red, and gold dominating the interior, reminiscent of the Middle Ages. 

The columns and ceilings of the Lower Chapel are adorned with additional decorative elements.

6. Oldest Murals in Paris: History 101

Keep an eye out for Saint Louis’s oldest mural inside the chapel. 

The painting of the Annunciation is positioned at the back of the lower chapel, above the door that once led to the royal archives tower. 

This incredible artwork depicts the angel Gabriel announcing Mary’s impending motherhood.

As you explore further, you’ll discover more painted decorations in the upper chapel. 

Thanks to the restoration work, these paintings have regained their original luster. 

However, one notable difference between the Lower and Upper Chapels is the starry sky effect on the ceiling of the Upper Chapel. 

It symbolizes its exclusive nature as a space reserved for the king’s prayer.

Now that you know what is there to see in this gem of Paris, let’s briefly read about the stories behind the sculptures and paintings in this chapelle.

Sainte Chapelle is a Journey through Time

Step into the lower chapel, where history unfolds before your eyes. 

Adorning the walls, you will discover faded yet remarkable painted decorations from the 13th century. 

These remnants speak of a bygone era, revealing glimpses of the chapel’s former glory. 

Through the skillful restoration efforts of the 19th century, these decorations have been revived.

It allows us to marvel at the original beauty that once graced Sainte Chapelle’s architecture.

1. Its Symbolism and Spirituality

Beyond its architectural grandeur, Sainte Chapelle is a place of profound symbolism and spirituality. 

It was designed to elevate the spiritual experience of the visitors, transporting them to a realm of divine connection. 

As you gaze upon the intricate details and immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance, you cannot help but feel a sense of wonder.

2. A Testament to Endurance

Over the centuries, this stained-glass church in Paris has withstood the test of time, surviving the ravages of revolution and war. 

Dedicated restoration efforts have preserved its structural integrity and revived its original splendor. 

Today, visitors have the privilege of experiencing this architectural gem in its splendid form and connecting with the rich tapestry of history.

3. Sculpted Decorations: Guardians of History

As you admire the interiors of Sainte Chapelle, the magnificent sculptures will undoubtedly catch your eye. 

Thanks to the meticulous restoration work of 19th-century restorers and architects, these artworks still stand, telling the story of medieval architecture. 

Let’s explore the sculpted decorations in three distinct parts to gain a better understanding.

  • The Connection of Christ: Embracing Faith

In the interior of Sainte Chapelle, you’ll find numerous sculptures that symbolize Christianity and the presence of Jesus. 

These unique decorations are spread throughout the chapel, each with its own significance. 

Notably, two remarkable artworks by Geoffroy-Dechaume are worth mentioning. 

The Virgin and Child sculpture, located in the portal of the Lower Chapel, beautifully reflects its medieval heritage.

Similarly, the Statue of Blessing Christ, leaning against the portal of the upper chapel, portrays solemnity, embodying the divine nature.

  • Interest in Naturalism: Art Inspired by Nature

Naturalism was a major influence on 13th-century artists, and you can see hints of it throughout the interiors of Sainte Chapelle. 

Decorations in the form of thistles, vines, hollies, and roses adorn the Upper Chapel, showcasing the artist’s fascination with nature. 

You might also encounter depictions of birds pecking or majestic birds lurking in the sculptures, subtly mirroring the beauty of nature in their artistic expression.

  • Apostles Statues: Stars of the Architecture

The apostles’ statues undoubtedly steal the spotlight within Sainte Chapelle’s architecture

These twelve statues are true marvels positioned against the walls that support the vaults.

Each statue holds a disc marked with a cross, signifying the chapel’s consecration. 

Interestingly, some statues depict barefoot figures, representing God or Christ, a mark of divinity and an iconic tradition of the 13th century. 

Others have their feet covered due to the abundance of drapery. 

As you observe closely, you’ll recognize familiar apostles like Saint Peter with his key, Paul carrying a sword, or John smiling in a corner. 

These statues exemplify the rise of Gothic architecture during Saint Louis’ reign.

4. The Bay of Relics: Unveiling the Sacred

While the exteriors of Sainte Chapelle are breathtaking, the interiors do indeed weave a magical experience.  

The stained glass windows, particularly the one depicting the royal dynasty’s story, stand out among the rest. 

This special window was made long before Louis XI went on the 7th Crusade. 

It shows his dreams and what he thought would happen to him. 

According to the story, Saint Helen, who visited the holy area in the fourth century, discovered the Cross. 

The Crown of Thorns, another sacred relic held in Constantinople until the 13th century, became part of Helen’s collection. 

When Saint Louis acquired these artifacts, he moved them to Sainte Chapelle in Paris

The Bay of Relics showcases this extraordinary story through a visually enticing stained glass window. 

One medallion within the bay portrays Louis XI and his brother Robert, barefoot, carrying a stretcher that holds the Holy Crown. 

The Sainte-Chapelle is a beautiful building with a lot of symbolism.

There are many hidden gems in Sainte Chapelle’s architecture.

If you look closely, you will find many intricate details that are full of symbolism. 
By exploring these details, you can better appreciate the artistry and historical significance of this extraordinary building.

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About the author

Aashima is an avid traveler who seeks out thrills and lives a simple, peaceful life. Bright clear skies are her calling.