Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Paris - La Sainte Chapelle

This is one of the most beautiful church interiors I've ever seen (larger image here)- La Sainte Chapelle on the Ile de la Cité, quite near Notre Dame. It was built by Louis IX in the 13th century to house some religious relics he purchased from the Middle East. Although some of these relics were destroyed during the Revolution, some did survive, and are now kept in the Louvre's reliquary.

There are two chapels here - one on the upper level for the exclusive use of the King; and another below it, on the ground floor, for other worshippers. At the time of construction, the King was able to walk directly into his chapel from the palace. The impressive stained glass windows, restored in the 19th century, tell stories from the Bible, and the walls below are painted just as they used to be in the Middle Ages.

Tourist venues in Paris, much as they are everywhere, are usually quite busy. When I visited Sainte Chapelle, I was struck by the number of people who sat in quiet solitude in the upper chapel, looking at the remarkable windows and walls, or just lost in their own contemplation.

EXIF: Sony Cybershot; ISO 200; 1/30 sec; f2.0.


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