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Written by: Bill Herren
The most spectacular, historic and eye-catching stained glass windows are scattered around the globe. While many stained glass windows are to be found in the cathedrals of Europe, the art form has evolved continuously over the centuries, with more modern examples found in libraries and other secular and modern spaces, as well.
A Romanesque church in Zurich, Switzerland, Grossmunster Cathedral boasts one of the most unusual contemporary stained glass windows you can see anywhere. The church received an update in 2009, with twelve windows designed by artist Sigmar Polke. The unusual windows are lined with thin wafers of agate, creating a vibrant and almost whimsical explosion of color.
Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center
Preston Bradley Hall, found in the historical Chicago Cultural Center, is home to the largest Tiffany stained-glass domed ceiling you can see anywhere. Designed by J.A. Hotlzer, the work is one of the foremost American pieces of stained glass. It measures 38 feet across and is surrounded by ornate Carrera marble.
One of Paris’ medieval Gothic churches, the Sainte-Chapelle is a chapel, located right on the Palais de la Cite, in the very center of the city. Built in the 13th century, the chapel is perhaps best known for its vast stained glass windows. The windows provide the bulk of nave and apse areas, with stonework delicately holding them together. Most of the windows date to the mid-13th century, though several later additions include a rose window with Flamboyant tracery.
Washington National Cathedral
Washington National Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington) is an Episcopal church located in Washington, D.C. Aside from various points of historical and national interest, the cathedral is also home to a few spectacular stained glass windows. Among them, various windows show tableaux dedicated to United States history, including the Space Window, which honors man’s landing on the Moon. A piece of lunar rock is encrusted within the window.
St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral is a Gothic cathedral located in Prague, Czech Republic. Among the highlights of the cathedral, it offers an unusual mix of 1920s art nouveau stained glass windows, alongside gothic ornamentation. The most famous windows, located in the northern end of the nave, were designed by painter Alfons Mucha.
Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision boasts a contemporary take on the stained glass window. The entire building, which is made of a cast glass “skin,” bears iconic images from the country’s most famous television moments. However, from most angles, viewers do not see individual images, but rather large stretches of bright color.
Located in southern Germany, Augsburg Cathedral stands out most of all for its stained glass windows, stunning examples of 11th and 12th century stained glass. The five windows of the southern clerestory are of the oldest of their kind in the country. They depict the prophets David, Jonah, Daniel, Moses and Hosea.
Arlington Street Church
A Unitarian Universalist church in Boston, Massachusetts, the Arlington Street Church is most notable to architects and historians for its Tiffany windows. The church is home to 16 stained glass windows, all of which were created by the Louis C. Tiffany studio. An additional four windows were planned, but never installed. One of the most famous of these windows displays an image of John the Baptist against a background of dreamy blue and purple hues.
Chartres Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of France’s most visited monuments. The medieval Catholic cathedral was built in the 12th to 13th centuries. Many of the windows date back to the early 13th century. In addition, Chartres is notable for its three large rose windows, each one between 10 and 12 meters in diameter.
Links to Images (Wikipedia)
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