Monday, August 28, 2006
St. Chappelle, considered by many guidebooks to be one of the best churches in Paris, is located on Ile de la Cite. Although I have been here for a year, I saw it for the first time last Sunday. I must say, I have been building it up in my mind for quite a while and was more than a little disappointed. Yes, there are tons of stained glass windows and yes, the majority of the bible is displayed on these windows, but it just seemed so small.
I love churches; being in Europe and seeing all the churches I have read about all my life is really a treat for me, but maybe I have seen too many, because I was just not very wowed by this one. I am sure St. Chappelle is fantastic in the morning or evening sun, but the sun was being very stubborn on Sunday and refused to shine at all. I didn't get the full majestic feel of the place because it was dark.
The history of this church is very interesting though. Louis IX (St. Louis) supposedly bought the Crown of Thorns and part of the cross from Constantinople in 1241 and commissioned the church as a place to display the relics. Oddly enough, the relics cost almost 3 times the amount of the construction of the church. During the revolution, the church, because of its association with the monarchy, was severely damaged and most of the statues and spires were destroyed.
However, I am afraid the history is more interesting than the actual church. It is very small and if the sun isn't shining, the beauty of the stained glass windows is lost. As an amateur guide, I cannot recommend this church for three reasons: there is an unreasonable charge, the lines are long and it isn't nearly as impressive as Notre Dame (which is free and located only a few streets away).