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Sainte-Chapelle

The Sainte-Chapelle or Holy Chapel, is located in the centre of Paris within the Palais de Justice on the Ile de la Cite. Construction of the chapel was started in 1246, and is built on two levels. It was built to house religious Christian relics, including the Crown of Thorns acquired by king, Louis IX from the emperor of Constantinople.

Atop the heavy buttressed walls, the slate roof is dominated by the spire standing 33 meters high and constructed from cedar wood. The present spire is a 19th century replica of the 15th century original.

The lower chapel or chapelle basse is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and supported by flying buttresses with a ceiling ornamented with fleur-de-lis designs on an azure background. The low vaulted ceilings rest on columns with crocketed capitals, these are linked by anchor braces made from either wood or stone. The walls are decorated with twelve medallions, which were designed to represent the Apostles.

The chapelle haute or upper chapel, is reached by ascending a narrow spiral staircase. The walls consist almost entirely of glass supported by slender piers, The windows depict Christian scenes starting with story of the Garden of Eden through to the Apocalypse, which is depicted in the great rose window.

The holy relics purchased by Louis IX were kept in a large, richly decorated reliquary. They were exhibited to the faithful congregation each year on Good Friday. In addition to the Crown of Thorns, the collection contained a number of other artefacts mentioned in the Bible, including, what was claimed to be a piece of the true cross.

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