Foto gentilmente concesse da Casa Editrice Bonechi
From the Palais de Justice, passing through a vaulted passage, one gains access to the Sainte Chapelle. Commissioned by Louis IX the Saint for housing the relic of the Crown of Thorns purchased by the sovereign in Venice in 1239, having been previously brought here from Constantinople. It is probable that this church was designed by the same architect who designed Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Pierre de Montreuil; in this case, though, the design was for two chapels, one on top of the other, which were consecrated in 1248. The lower chapel corresponds to a high level basement, above which open up large, pinnacled windows. The steeply sloping roof is enriched with a marble balustrade: a soaring, honeycombed spire 75 metres high is the worthy topping to this graceful piece of architecture. Two more spires are pressed against the façade, preceded by a portico: this is surmounted by a large rose-window portraying themes of the Apocalypse and which dates back to the late Fourteen hundreds. Here, everything becomes lighter: every structural element looses its consistency, becoming a thin embroidery or a delicate lace. The ribs become more slender, the pinnacles become finer and the architecture itself practically disappears, almost as if to leave space for the large glazed windows. Sainte Chapelle's 15 windows with their 1134 scenes covering a surface of 618 square metres, belong to the XIIIth century and illustrate, in the splendour of their colours and impassioned and frenetic style, scenes from the Bible and the Gospels.