Stained glass is a fine art that has decorated sacred buildings since the Middle Ages, creating a captivating scene of light and colour to which it is difficult to remain indifferent. Those who pay enough attention will discover the story and mysteries of Christianity written in them. Check out this list of European stained-glass masterpieces which will take your breath away.
Chartres is one of the best-preserved Gothic cathedrals in Europe. It houses the largest collection of medieval stained glass windows in the world: 167 stained glass windows made between the 12th and 14th centuries. The windows illustrate the life of numerous saints and the various guilds of the time when it was built. The dominant colour, apart from ruby red, is cobalt blue, which later became famous as "Chartres blue" as it was difficult to replicate with the same brightness and intensity.
The King’s College Chapel is not only a renowned institution but also home to 26 priceless stained-glass windows crafted under the reign of King Henry VIII in the 16th century. The windows depict biblical figures from the Old and New Testaments as well as prominent members of English royalty. The panels were mostly made by Flemish and English master glaziers. During World War II, the windows were removed from the chapel and stored in a safe place to avoid any damage. After the war, it took five years to put all the panels back in place.
Part of the amazing jaw-dropping ability of this must-see religious building in Paris has to do with its majestic stained glass windows. La Sainte Chapelle displays 15 delicately crafted stained glass windows and a rose window. Similarly to many 12th-century Christian buildings, only five colours adorn the windows: blue, red, green, purple and yellow. In total over 1,000 biblical figures are represented on the Chapel´s glass panels. These recount numerous biblical stories of the Old and New Testaments and how King Louis IX brought the 22 relics once housed here to Paris.
York Minster is home to the largest collection of stained glass in the UK, which dates from the 12th century. The Great East Window is the most notable feature of the building, with a total of 311 panes of glass and a height of 24 metres, making it the largest stained glass window in the country. This magnificent late medieval masterpiece by John Thornton depicts biblical figures from the Creation to the Apocalypse. The most recent restoration of the window lasted ten years, from 2008 to 2018.
Not only centuries-old stained glass windows can leave visitors overwhelmed. The most emblematic building of Catalan Modernisme is a delightful explosion of colour that floods the Cathedral with warm and cold tones. The panes of glass are reminiscent of Gaudí's iconic tiled mosaics. Designed by Gaudi. by glazier Joan Vila-Grau.
Aachen Cathedral is known for housing the remains of Charlemagne and was the first monument to be included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in Germany. Its Choir was inspired by La Sainte Chapelle in Paris, hence its close resemblance to it. All the original windows were lost during the shelling of the city in World War II. After the war, new stained glass windows were commissioned to Walther Benner and Anton Wendling.