Believe it or not, Notre Dame de Paris may not be the most beautiful church on the Ile de la Cité. Many would say that honor should go to the lesser-known, slightly hidden Sainte Chapelle for its extraordinary stained glass windows. Unlike Notre Dame, visiting the royal chapel requires a ticket, but boy is it worth it. This monument is a pure wonder!
Built between 1241 and 1248 on the orders of Louis IX, La Sainte Chapelle was constructed to house the pious king’s collection of Christian relics, including Jesus’s Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the True Cross. Although the religious artifacts have since been moved to the reliquary of Notre Dame, there’s still plenty to see in this medieval Parisian jewel.
When you first walk into La Sainte Chapelle, it might not seem like much. But go upstairs and you’ll find yourself standing in a masterpiece of Rayonnant Gothic architecture. A kaleidoscope of colors fills the upper chapel thanks to its 6400 square feet of magnificent stained glass windows, two-thirds of which are original. It’s one of the most complete and remarkable sets of 13th-century stained glass in the world. And if you’re lucky enough to catch a sunbeam while you’re there… well, it’s absolutely dazzling!
The spectacular beauty of the chapel is no secret, and there’s often a long line to enter. To avoid the crowds, try to visit during the work week and purchase your ticket online ahead of time. Or, better yet, if you’re planning to visit the Conciergerie next door, buy a joint Conciergerie + Sainte Chapelle ticket and save 4€!