The journey to our next stop is an easy one from my apartment as it is a quick metro line 4 ride to the Cite stop in Paris.

As we know the Fortress at Angers was built by Blanche of Castile for her son and heir to the thrown Louis IX. It was Louis IX who in turn built Sainte-Chapelle. Sainte-Chapelle had it’s grand opening on April 26, 1248. The chapel was built to hold relics of The Passion of the Christ – notably the Crown of Thorns and a piece of the cross. The chapel was built aside Louis’ palace on the Ile de la Cite.

The church has two distinct levels and two distinct chapels. The lower chapel was built for servants and is where we mere tourists enter. The lower chamber, where I once had the privilege of seeing a New Year’s Eve concert, is covered in fleur de lys and the colors of France, red and blue. The chapel is beautiful but dark and a little sad. I worry that there may be some tourists who did not do their homework and therefore do not know to take the narrow, circular staircase (the staircase for servants), to the upper chapel.

The upper chapel, reserved solely for the king and his family, is the exact opposite of it’s downstairs neighbor. As you leave the dark lower chapel to climb the narrow stairs it is hard to know what to expect. Even if you have seen pictures of the upper chamber of Sainte-Chapelle there is nothing to prepare you for the awe inspiring beauty that is Louis’ private sanctuary. The chapel was accessed by a terrace linked to the king’s private chambers in the palace. At the time it was rare for the King to have such direct access to his chapel but this entrance was directly attributed to the Emperor’s access to the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople(now Istanbul).

There are fifteen stained glass windows that are quite nearly floor to ceiling. Fourteen of the windows depict scenes from the first fourteen books of the Bible. The fifteenth window depicts the story of the finding of the relics of the Passion of the Christ, something extremely unique as historically stained glass windows depict biblical scenes.

Being inside Sainte-Chapelle is akin to sitting inside a jewelry box. It is amazingly bright and instills you with a sense of flying. It is said that Chartres is so amazing because of it’s light – Chartres has nothing on Sainte-Chapelle.

Next Stop – Chateau de Vincennes

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