I love old churches and whenever we travel I will always check out the historical churches of a town. It’s a step back in time that combines architecture with the spiritual that always amazes and touches me. Paris is the king of churches, there are over 200 of them! I’ll just mention my two favorites Notre-Dame and San-Chapelle.
Technically Notre-Dame is the only cathedral of Paris. (A Catholic Cathedral is run by a Bishop and a church is run by a Priest). Notre-Dame’s location on the Ile de la Cite gives it a unique view from a distance especially when you take a Seine River tour. This French Gothic beauty dates back to the 12th century and took more than 200 years to build. This iconic view is the west facade and includes the Portal of the Last Judgement.
Above Christ, are the figures of the Heavenly Court. Angels, patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, and virgins. Below Christ shows the resurrection and Saint Michael weighing the souls. The good are led to the left and the condemned are directed to hell.
The cathedral is best known for its intricate gargoyles. We walked around to the side entrance of the cathedral and hiked up 350 steps that took us to the roof. We walked among the gargoyles and towers and took in stunning views of Paris. This is definitely a must-do in Paris.
Sainte-Chapelle is the jewel box of all churches. It was a royal chapel built in the 13th century by King Louis IX to house his religious relics – the crown of thorns of Jesus Christ and a piece of the Cross. Sainte-Chapelle is a stained-glass masterpiece and the hall has a rich surreal atmosphere.
The Sainte-Chapelle is actually 2 separate chapels: the Lower Chapel and the Upper Chapel. The Lower Chapel was for the for the palace staff and has beautifully painted ceiling but just a few stained-glass windows. If you didn’t see the Upper Chapel it still is impressive but then I’m a fan of painted ceilings.
The Upper Chapel was created for the royal family and their friends to worship and is made mostly of gorgeous colorful stain-glassed windows. The chapel also has statues and walls painted in rich jeweled tone colors.
Being a decorative painter I especially loved the painted ceilings and columns. I would recommend a visit to Sainte-Chapelle for anyone visiting Paris. It definitely is a must-see.