Chapelle de la Sorbonne Paris

Chapelle de la Sorbonne Paris was build from plans by the famous Cardinal Richelieu Jacques Lemercier during 1635-42.

When Cardinal Richelieu became the headmaster of Sorbonne University in 1622, the university had just a collection of separate buildings in a deteriorating condition, built around the Sorbonne chapel that used to be here.

To remedy the situation, Cardinal gave architect Jacques Lemercier an assignment in 1626 to rebuild the place, in a more uniform and classic architecture style.

Chapelle de la Sorbonne in Paris France

PHOTO: Sorbonne chapel, an integral part of the Sorbonne university complex, photographed from the Place de la Sorbonne square in front of the building.

In the original plans, the main intention was not to build a new chapel, but instead, the intention was to have the old chapel as a center piece for two separate sections of the new university building complex.

The new chapel, however, was included in the plans during the changes made in 1626, and to build it, the builders decided on demolishing Collège de Calvi (fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collège_de_Calvy), to make new room.

Construction work for the university buildings started in 1627, but, Richelieu personally placed the foundation stone on the chapel construction site, as an official ceremony commemorating the start of the project, much later, in 1635.

Work on the building was finished on Cardinal Richelieu’s year of death, 1642, and his funeral took place at the yet-to-be-finished chapel.

In the blueprints made by architect Jacques Lemercier, the chapel provides continuity in terms of architecture, to the periods of Renaissance and Baroque.

For its exteriors, the most significant highlights of the building are its massive, elegant dome, as well as the two rows of Corinthian columns, made in the tradition of Baroque period churches.

The chapel facade has four magnificent statues, of which on the left is a work depicting Saint Thomas Aquinas, up and to the right a work depicting Petrus Lombardus, bottom right Jacques Bénigne Bossuet, and bottom left Jean Gerson.

The chapel exterior is inspired by different buildings in Rome. For example, Place de la Sorbonne Baroque facade comes inspired by the Chiesa del Gesù in Rome, which has, in turn, an inner courtyard that was made with inspiration from the Rome Pantheon and its columns.

Chapelle de la Sorbonne Paris chapel is widely considered as one of the finest masterpieces of French classical architecture.

For the interiors, some of the highlights include the two altars facing the entrance, of which the monumental one is dedicated to Cardinal Richelieu.

Most of the interiors were designed by architect Philippe de Champaigne, but the entombment for Cardinal Richelieu is a desing by François Girardon.

The church interiors showcase a simplified style, where paintings have been restricted to altar works and the vault section.