It is an art form most associated with holy places, mostly Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages but stained glass can be found in so many different venues around the world. If you are lucky the sun will hit the glass just right, giving way to indescribable beauty and illumination. Stained glass windows aren’t just there for beauty but they most often tell a story, educate and inspire people. From the largest stained glass window in the world to medieval churches to modern-day takes on this art form, here are seven examples of incredible stained glass throughout our world.
7. Chapel of Thanks-Giving, Dallas, Texas
The most prominent and recognizable feature of the Thanks-Giving Square is the Chapel of Thanksgiving, thanks to the Glory Window; one of the largest horizontally mounted stained-glass pieces in the world. The chapel is a small spiral tower and the window was designed by Gabriel Loire who designed it to feature brighter colors as the spiral reaches its apex, becoming brighter as it reaches the center.
The spiral shape of the window was inspired by the spiraled shape of the chambered nautilus, a squid that lives inside a shell. The spiral is made up of 73 panels of glass and is one of the most unique stained glass features around the world. The chapel is part of a three-acre complex that also includes a garden and museum, dedicated to how Thanksgiving is celebrated around the world.
6. Erawan Museum, Bangkok
There are thousands of temples to discover in Bangkok but if you are looking for incredible stained glass, the Erawan Museum is the place to find just that. This whimsical museum is actually a sculpture of the three-headed elephant, Erawan, from the Hindu mythology and boasts an amazing stained glass ceiling. German artist Jacob Schwarzkopf was in charge of the project and took a traditional approach to the job, asking glass companies to use the ancient procedure of blowing the glass to produce the stained glass.
The stained glass is semi-abstract although it represents the story of the earth and consists of the five continents at the middle with the sun shining to provide energy to all life forms. Surrounding this is the ring of 12 zodiac signs and the human figure depicted in various gestures. Awe-inspiring to look at, don’t forget to explore the rest of this awesome museum.
5. Resurrection Cemetery, Illinois
It is here where you will find the world’s largest stained glass window, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Pickel Studio created this window that sits over 22,000 square feet of faceted glass and contains 2,448 panels. Work on this stained glass started in the 1960’s and since then over 1,000 new and exciting windows and walls of glass have been added. One of the most impressive places in the world to see such an extraordinary amount of stained glass.
4. Winchester Cathedral, England
In 1642 the cathedrals huge medieval stained glass West Window was deliberately smashed by Cromwell’s forces following the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, a tragedy to the beautiful works of art. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the broken glass was actually gathered up and used again.
But this time there was no rhyme or reason to the design, the glass was placed randomly after it was determined it would be too hard to put back together. What results is a collection of colorful pieces that shine in the sunlight and tell a story of history, tragedy, and rebuilding.
3. Chicago Cultural Center, Illinois
Hundreds of thousands of visitor’s flock here each year, not just to marvel at the beautifully stained glass domes but also because of the many free public events it hosts. The landmark building is indeed home to two magnificent stained glass dome though, one that claims to be the largest stained glass Tiffany Dome in the world. In the south side of the building is that claim to fame, the Tiffany dome that stands 38 feet in diameter with some 30,000 pieces of glass.
This dome was restored in 2008, bringing even more visitors to gaze at its beauty. The second dome is located on the north side of the building and is a whopping 40 feet in diameter and features over 50,000 pieces of glass designed in an intricate Renaissance pattern. Whether you are coming here for the free festivals, art exhibits or family events, make sure to check out these two incredible stained glass works.
2. Sainte-Chapelle, Paris
This royal medieval Gothic chapel located in the heart of Paris boasts some of the most impressive stained glass in the world. There are a total of fifteen huge 13th-century windows that fill the nave and apse and despite some damage, are still in incredible condition. The windows are practically floor to ceiling and display a clear iconographical program.
A painstaking seven-year restoration of the windows was completed in early 2015, a process that removed centuries of dirt from the thousands of panels. It is best to visit on a sunny day when the deep blues and red stand out best, in images that depict Old Testament scenes and the Crucifixion. One does not need to be religious to appreciate this incredible artwork.
1. Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Netherlands
This building features a modern take on stained glass, according to designers the buildings façade is a screen of colored relief glass that depicts famous images from Dutch television. There are hundreds of panels of glass that represent images from all genres and eras and although difficult to see the images clearly from all angles, they can be seen more clearly from the inside. Described as cathedral-like, this is one of the most impressive modern stained glass displays out there.
The building itself is actually housed both underground and above ground, 10 stories’ in total with five of them being below the surface. Inside the building houses the national broadcasting archives which encompass over 700,000 hours of television, film, music and radio footage.