Famous Examples of Stained Glass in Architecture


Stained glass has been used in architecture for centuries, enhancing the beauty and grandeur of buildings with its vibrant colors and intricate designs. While the technique of using colored glass dates back to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and Romans, its use in architecture truly flourished during the Middle Ages. This period saw an explosion of stained glass installations in Europe, mainly in churches and cathedrals. However, stained glass has also been incorporated into secular architecture, with many notable and famous examples around the world. In this article, we will explore some of the most famous examples of stained glass in architecture.

1. Notre-Dame de Paris, France

Perhaps one of the most iconic examples of stained glass in architecture is the Notre-Dame de Paris in France. This medieval Catholic cathedral, which was built between the 12th and 14th centuries, is known for its stunning rose windows. These large circular windows, measuring around 13 meters in diameter, depict biblical scenes and saints in a symmetrical and colorful manner. The famous south rose window, dating back to the 13th century, is a magnificent example of Gothic stained glass, with its intricate patterns and vibrant colors.

2. Sainte-Chapelle, France

Another French Gothic masterpiece, the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris is widely considered one of the most beautiful churches in the world. Built in the 13th century, the chapel is known for its stunning stained glass windows, which cover around 75% of its surface. The windows, which were created to house relics of the Passion of Christ, depict scenes from the Bible in a unique and intricate manner. The combination of vibrant colors and intricate designs in the windows has made the Sainte-Chapelle a prime example of Gothic stained glass.

3. Chartres Cathedral, France

Located in the city of Chartres, this cathedral is a prime example of French Gothic architecture and is widely considered one of the best-preserved medieval churches in the world. The cathedral’s stained glass windows, which date back to the 13th century, are well-known for their stunning blue color, known as “Chartres Blue”. This unique color, achieved by adding cobalt oxide to the glass, has become synonymous with the cathedral and is a popular color in stained glass art to this day.

4. Saint Vitus Cathedral, Czech Republic

The breathtaking Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague is a prime example of Gothic architecture and is known for its stunning stained glass windows. The cathedral’s famous rose window, which measures 10 meters in diameter, depicts the Last Judgement and is considered one of the best examples of Gothic stained glass. The cathedral also features other unique and unusual stained glass windows, such as the “Window of the Bohemian Kings”, which depicts the coats of arms of the kings of Bohemia.

5. Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica, Canada

Located in the province of Quebec, the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica is known for its stunning collection of stained glass windows. The basilica, which was constructed in the early 20th century, features over 240 beautifully crafted stained glass windows that depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments. These windows, created by renowned French artist Marius Roy, are considered to be some of the best examples of modern stained glass in the world.

6. The National Cathedral, United States

Located in Washington D.C., the National Cathedral is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world and is known for its stunning collection of stained glass windows. The cathedral’s “Space Window”, created by artist Rodney Winfield, is a prime example of modern stained glass and is a tribute to America’s space exploration program. The window incorporates genuine fragments of lunar rock, making it a truly unique and special piece of stained glass art.

In conclusion, stained glass has played an essential role in architecture for centuries, with many famous examples found around the world. From the stunning rose windows of Notre-Dame de Paris and the Sainte-Chapelle in France to the unique Chartres Blue found in the windows of Chartres Cathedral, these examples showcase the versatility and beauty of stained glass. The use of stained glass in architecture continues to evolve, with modern examples such as the National Cathedral in the United States and the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica in Canada pushing the boundaries and showcasing the continuing relevance of this ancient technique in contemporary design.