The stained glass windows of the Upper Chapel of Sainte-Chapelle (The Holy Chapel) are amazing, particularly on a sunny day with light radiating through the windows. Unlike any church structure I have seen, stained glass windows mostly cover the Upper Chapel, covering a total of 6,500 square feet in area, of which two-thirds are still 13th century originals. The Western Rose window was crafted in the 15th century. Visitors marvel and stare in awe of the tall windows and statues of the twelve apostles. While admiring the spectacular art work I wondered what was this was used for? Was it a church? A house of worship? It is not listed in a helpful guide to Paris churches Patrimoine religieux de Paris, guide des visites de’eglises 2012 so I wasn’t sure.
The answer is that the building, built from 1242-1258 by King Louis IX, was designed to house the relics of Christ’s Passion, particularly, the Crown of Thorns. The Upper Chapel housed the relics and was reserved for the king, family, and friends. According to Sacred Destinations, Louis IX was unique among aristocrats in that he actually bought sacred relics rather than steal them. Much of the chapel as it appears today is a re-creation, although nearly two-thirds of the windows are authentic. The chapel suffered substantial damage during the French Revolution. Some parts of the chapel disappeared altogether, precious relics were scattered or melted down, some never found again. The few recovered relics are now at Notre-Dame. Sainte-Chapelle was renovated under the direction of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. He renovated Notre Dame and many other churches. The renovation was highly regarding by critics and is faithful to the original drawings and descriptions of the chapel that survive. The windows were removed two times and painstakingly reinstalled: during the 19th century and during World War II.
For 360 panorama views, see Mapping Gothic France.
I forgot my Joby GorillaPod on my visit to Sainte Chapelle; I’m not sure if the church allows tripods anyway. I bracketed my shots from -2 to +2 using 800 ISO with shutter speeds ranging from 1/400 to 1/25. The light at Sainte-Chapelle is adequate when the sun is shining, better than most churches so hand held shots are possible. Hand held, I take a lot of shots; for me holding my camera steady at shutter speeds of under 1/100 is hit or miss, generally more miss than hit. Post production, I selected the in focus exposures and used HDR to bring out the detail.
SainteChapelleSainte ChapelleParis churchesParischurchphotostained glasswindowKent Beckernot my day job photographyupper chapel