Given its size, Vence has relatively many chapels. Most are located on the outskirts of the city and in very varied condition. Some are even used for private storage or garages.
This chapel is the largest and most attractive chapel in Vence. Centrally located, just a few hundred meters from Place Grand Jardin on the ancient Roman road to Castallane, it is within easy walking distance if you are only in Vence for a short visit.
The chapel’s origins date back to the 13th century and have since been extended to its present appearance in 1614.
Iconic colorful dome
It has a very beautiful dome and a bell tower, which is decorated with colorful glazed tiles. Due to its distinctive and beautiful appearance, the chapel has almost become a landmark for Vence.
The chapel was named La Chapelle Pénitents Blancs in 1560 when the fraternity took over as a starting point for their humanitarian work to serve the poor and the sick.
Compared to many other chapels, it has a covered entrance, serving as shelter from wind and weather for travelers passing through the city.
In connection with the expansion of the chapel in 1614, a sacristy and the now iconic dome were added. The chapel also gained status as a historical monument in 1944.
The chapel inside
Inside, the chapel has retained its beautiful glazed mosaic tile floor and along three of the walls there are wood panels and rows of seats – a very classic piece of furniture for the Pénitents Blancs chapels. You will also find a marble altar from 1887, as well as the remains of a fresco painting on the wall above the lectern. Back in 1905, a series of paintings from the 17th century also hung here, including Jesus’ descent from the cross. These are kept in the cathedral today.
The status of the chapel today
Through expropriation in 1905, ownership changed hands from the Church to the city of Vence. The city has since renovated the chapel and today it is used for temporary exhibitions in collaboration with the Musee de Vence.
By Tommy Sverre / 2020