The entrance is rather mundane, open to a large room with cement floors, fleur-de-lis decorated pillars, and a statue of an ancient French king.
When I walked in, I thought that was it. There didn’t seem to be anywhere else to go, and I wandered around the room wondering why everyone raved about this place. I told myself not to be disappointed because Saint Chappelle dates back to the 13th century.
Then I noticed that every once in a while, someone made their way to a cramped little stairway off to one side of the entrance. Its steep stairs were just as treacherous as those found in the Tower of London, curving round and round to the upper level.
When I stepped out of that claustrophobic space, I beheld the true marvel of Saint Chappelle. My visit corresponded with repairs to all the windows on one side of the room, so I didn’t get the full effect, but still…it was pretty breathtaking.
The windows start at a high level on the walls. I didn’t pay much attention to exactly how high, because OMG look at all those beautiful stained glass windows!
After visiting many Gothic cathedrals, I would guess that these are pretty standard for size and placement.
I stood there, dumbstruck, with a room full of strangers.
We milled around, craning our necks to look up, oohing and ahhing at all of the pretty colored windows, and the lovely filtered light coming in. We murmured. The room had a hushed quality, like a museum. I wished for a pew or something to sit on, but there was no furniture. Maybe they can’t get anything up those stairs.