The Two Levels of Sainte-Chapelle

The last destination of my Christmas 2013 trip was Paris. Lucky that one of my friend, Ari, is a history-enthusiast. I myself don’t prefer going to museums/any place which made us pay some fee to enter (even small ones), but if there’s someone who actually stated “I want to visit this and this and this because of this and this and this” with full passion, why not?!

One of the place that Ari reaaally wanted to go to was Sainte-Chapelle. It is located in the Ile de la Cite, the small island inside Paris, not far from the famous Notre Dame. As me and Ari were students in France, we were apparently exempted from the entrance fee! God bless France! But our two other friends were studying in Germany, so they needed to buy the international students ticket, costs about 6 Euros. In the spirit of sharing, we split the payment by four.

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I did not have much expectation at first, but this chapel blew me away. We were greeted by a statue of little King Louis IX, one of French’s monarchs back then. Too bad that the arms were not complete, but one interesting thing I found about this statue is the fading motives, which could only be seen clearly in enhanced photo. It shows France’s monarch symbol so-called fleur-de-lis, which is derived from a lily, with royal blue background. This is found in numerous French, even European coat of arms. You can find the symbol everywhere inside the first level of the chapel.

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One interesting thing about this chapel is its color. Unlike any other religious structures commonly found in Europe (which have only natural stone colors), you can find vibrant colors even with minimum light. According to some references, it is built with Gothic style between the 12th to the 14th century, and was repainted in the 19th century to preserve its original interior. Even the ceilings have the royal fleur-de-lis!

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Once we were finished admiring the first floor, we went to the stairs for the next one… we then realized why people need to pay the entrance fee.

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The stained glasses are so beautiful! The color, how the sunshine made these glasses ‘alive,’ this is definitely worth for a ‘not free’ attraction. A certain price is needed to justify its beauty. According to some research, the stained glass windows in this chapel is among the finest in the world!

While I was still wandering around the relatively small room (of course, it is a chapel after all), Ari handed me an A2-sized information block. “Every window here represents a bible story..” “What?!” “Yep, just look it up.”

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It was true! There were stories both from Old and New Testament. It was like a cycle. No wonder they were so special!

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Different from the first level, the ceiling in this second level is not decorated with fleur-de-lis but stars instead. This is not in the explanation, but I think the architect was communicating something through this, which the monarch might not even realized. The architect was stating that, no matter how important the monarch are, their authority will always be below God’s. They are nothing compared to God and what He has done, all compiled in the second level. I guess that is why he put the king’s statue in first level, too.

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Being satisfied, we went down the stairs, and found (well of course) a souvenir store. I don’t really eye for souvenirs to be honest, but this action figure of Jeanne d’Arc (or Joan of Arc) interested me. She’s like, my idol. I look up a lot to this person who died young. So without further ado, I decided to buy it for my mom, as a sign that her little girl will always be home with her (even though I am always running around here and there, lol).

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