Located on Paris’s Île de la Cité in the Palais de Justice, Sainte-Chapelle was commissioned around 1240 by King Louis IX to house his collection of Passion relics, which included the Crown of Thorns, fragments of the True Cross and 39 other items. (What remained of the relics after the Revolution are now housed in Notre Dame.) The upper chapel is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and is home to the largest collection of 13th century stained glass anywhere in the world. The windows tell stories from both the Old and New Testaments as well as the rediscovery and preservation of the relics. Definitely visit on a sunny day.
The lower chapel is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Every surface is adorned with color and pattern; unfortunately, the original stained glass windows were removed then replaced after waters from the Seine flooded the chapel in 1690. A narrow stone staircase takes visitors upstairs and, I must say, stepping into the upper chapel, the beauty of the room took my breath away.
(I know the images show a bit of blur; my little point-and-shoot camera couldn’t quite overcome the different light levels.)
“The true fruit of travel is perhaps the feeling of being nearly everywhere at home.”–Freya Stark