Art has long been used to tell stories and stained glass windows are no different.
One of the most fascinating features of Gothic churches is their splendid stained glass windows that are so bewitching. Gazing at the colorful glass mosaics, you could virtually transport yourself to a kaleidoscopic world. More importantly, when sunlight shines upon the multicolored window, it casts an enchanting reflection that makes you feel you’re in heaven.
While the ancient Egyptians and the Romans used stained glass, it wasn’t until the 10th century that the technique was used for full-scale windows, starting in Gothic churches. After all, God said “Let there be light” and these windows not only let in the light but tell stories so beautifully that it’s hard to look away.
Are you ready to take a trip to an ethereal dimension? We picked out seven different houses of worship with the most splendid stained glass windows in the world. So, get ready for a mesmerizing journey.
The mind-bogglingly detailed kaleidoscopic stained glass in Sainte-Chapelle dates to the 13th century.
Built to house French king Louis IX’s collection of Christian relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns, no expense was spared in the building of this Parisian chapel.
The three windows to the east illustrate the New Testament, and feature scenes of The Passion, Infancy of Christ, and the Life of John the Evangelist. The windows of the nave depict the kings and queens of the Old Testament and along the walls, you’ll find depictions from the Book of Genesis, Exodus, and the Book of Kings.
#2 King’s College Chapel
This notable chapel in the University of Cambridge features some of the finest stained glass window in the world. The most famous of these windows are the monumental windows at the east and west ends of the chapel. But the 12 large windows on each side are equally as mesmerizing as well.
#3 Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
This Islamic place of worship in Shiraz, Iran was built in the 19th century. It is now widely known as the Pink Mosque due to its unique pink-colored tiles. But the unusual tiles are not the only thing that makes it stand out. The façade includes splendid stained glass windows that reflect a stunning display of colorful lights, particularly at dawn.
#4 La Sagrada Família
Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia (Expiatory Church of the Holy Family) is an unfinished church in Barcelona, Spain. It was initially built under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar in 1882. But a year later, Villar resigned and was replaced by Antoni Gaudí.
Known for his Gothic-inspired engineering style, Gaudi adorned the church with splendid stained glass windows in order to create expressivity and grandeur. Gaudi died before he could complete the church. And to make it worse, Gaudi’s plans were destroyed by the revolutionaries during the Spanish Civil War.
It took 16 years to restore Gaudi’s works which include the fantastical glass windows. Modern architects intend to complete the church based on Gaudi’s original plans. And we should expect this historical church to be completed by 2026.
#5 The Rosary Chapel
Also known as Vence Chapel or Matisse Chapel, this 20th-century church in southeastern France was designed by Henry Matisse. The famous architect designed the glass windows based on his series of cut-outs. Vivid colors illuminate the interior when sunlight hits the stained glass windows. The result is indeed an eye-catching work of art that adds an abstract beauty to this small chapel.
#6 The Grossmunster
This Protestant church in Zurich, Switzerland was built in the 11th century. Starting out as a monastery church, the Grossmunster we’re seeing now is the result of centuries of reconstruction. In 1932, Swiss Artist Augusto Giacometti added stained glass windows to the church which are certainly captivating. And in 2009, German painter Sigmar Polke added another stained glass window.
#7 The Chapel of Thanksgiving
Constructed in 1976, the Chapel of Thanksgiving in Dallas, Texas serves as a spiritual center of Thanksgiving Square. The chapel’s unique spiraling shape is more highlighted by splendid stained glass windows. Projecting a contemporary design, the spiraling windows seem to change color throughout the day. Looking from below, the windows surely appear like a stairway to heaven. The interior of the chapel is indeed a sight to behold.