Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Royal Chapel in Paris

When people go to the center of paris, to the Isle of the City in the middle of the Seine, they're usually headed to Notre Dame.  And for good reason.  But if you go to the other end of the island, you can find something else that's quite amazing.

In late July, we took a stay-cation here in Paris, and headed over to see Notre Dame one day (like everyone else).  Unfortunately, everyone else was already there.

Remembering an amazing photo by +Trey Ratcliff of the interior of Ste Chapelle, we decided to go look at it, instead.

Ste Chapel was the royal chapel.  It was built by King Louis IX in the mid 13th century to house relics from Christ.  As such, every inch of the interior is covered in beautiful colors, gold leaf, or mosaics.

It's incredible on the inside.  But the outside is a little uncertain, as it's within a courtyard of the Palais de Justice.  A rather foreboding location.  But the gates of the are quite nice.



The church is covered in scaffolding from restoration work that they're doing on the windows.  Such amazing windows...  But we're not there yet.


The entrance takes you past this stonework, into a lower chapel



And the lower chapel is beautiful, every surface is painted in beautiful colors, or gold leaf, or a statue...


At the end of the lower chapel, is this beautiful tableau:


The details are just amazing.  I strongly recommend spending a good bit of time down here before heading upstairs to the main chapel.





After we spent a good while looking at the details in the lower chapel, we found the stairs in the corner, and headed up into the main chapel, where you arrive in a corner via a spiral staircase.

As beautiful as the lower chapel is, it doesn't prepare you for what's upstairs.



The walls of the chapel are almost non-existent.  It's supported by external buttresses so that they could have these amazing stained lass windows.  My pictures don't even come close to doing it justice, so I will instead link to travel photographer Trey Ratcliff's dazzling photo of the chapel.  Please go look at it, because I can't convey just how amazing this place is, and his photo gives a feel for the awe that it inspires when you're there.

This is apparently the largest collection of 13th century stained glass in existence 2/3 of the windows are original.  While we where there, about 1/3 of the windows were covered for renovation work, so I didn't try to get a sweeping view like Trey took.

Here's a closeup of a small portion of one of the windows, to give an idea of the amount of detail involved:


And the rose window over the original entrance, which is a terrace on the second floor (US floor numbering).


At the East end of the church, the altar is just amazing



And as in the lower chapel, the walls are covered in intricate details







Even the floor is covering in mosaics


All in all, it's a wonderful place to visit, definitely worth the hour or so to see it in detail.