We call it the window of the soul, and the best way of expressing what one cannot write using ink and paper, and what the mouth cannot sing or talk about. It takes various forms, and it liberates us from the enslaving dogmas and formulas of how we need to express our God-given creativity. It may seem to be voiceless and silent, but its message speaks louder than thousands of cleverly articulated words by even the most eloquent orators. In simple terms, we call this creative reality by one name—ART.
Glass is one of the tools that men have used to express their artistic genius. Since men discovered it, artists have used it to decorate buildings and construct sculptures that have taken the world by storm. In this post, we shall look at some of the most amazing pieces of stained-glass art from across the world. Lets traverse different continents to see how stained glass has contributed to the world of art.
1. Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL
Back to the US, but this time in Chicago, we land at the Chicago Cultural Center. This site is one of the most magnetic sites in this city due to the domed ceilings that punctuate its artistic architecture. Besides, it boasts of being the earth’s largest Tiffany-glass dome on earth.
2. Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, Texas
The tour starts with man’s ways to express thankfulness to the Creator; the most important human virtue for many people around the world. One of the finest samples of this inner need is the Chapel of Thanksgiving, in Dallas, Texas. It is famous for its “Glory Window” that symbolically brings down the bliss of heaven when Thanksgiving ascends from the hearts and lips of the Christian faithful.
3. Santuário Dom Bosco, Brasília, Brazil
From North America, where we began our tour on a religious note, we move south and enter the land of Samba, where we encounter the famous Santuário Dom Bosco in Brazil’s capital city. From the outside, this magnificent piece of stained glass may easily pass for another ordinary concrete box. However, you need to get inside to know how wrong you could be by looking at its externals. When you step inside, its interior tells a different story of magnificence that is embellished with stained-glass windows radiating with 7,499 blue pieces of glass that harmoniously glow to reflect the bliss of the heavens.
4. The Largest Stained Glass Window (Illinois, US)
According to the current Guinness Book of World Records, the US has another masterpiece to show off – the world’s largest stained glass window. The glass, crafted by Pickel Studio, has 2,448 panels and features more than 22,000 square feet of faceted glass. For more than 50 years after its inauguration in the early 60s, the expertly designed glass artwork has remained a significant point of attraction to visitors and locals alike.
5. The Largest US stained-glass Flag
From England, we cross the Atlantic Ocean and go back to the US where we find this record-breaking and breathtaking piece of stained glass artwork. But this time around, this piece of stained-glass artwork communicates a patriotic message as it reflects and evokes the colors and spirit of the US flag. Standing 40 feet high on the south wall of the Dole Institute of Politics on the west campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, the world’s largest glass flag has 960 artistic pieces.
Besides, the glass stained flag weighs a record one ton and it took $200,000 to construct it. Flanked by steel columns salvaged from the World Trade Center, the flag is more than just a piece of art. On the contrary, the stained-glass flag stands tall as an embodiment of resilience and the reflection of the American spirit of courage especially after the fateful September 11 events that shook the US and the world at large.
6. Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona, Spain
Back to Europe, we come to Barcelona to the west of Spain. Embellished with beautiful curved lines, floral motifs, and rich details the stained glass artwork in Palau de la Música Catalana features a concert hall that is illuminated fully by sunlight during the day, due to the stained-glass walls and its inverted dome skylight.
7. Coventry Cathedral, Coventry, England
From North America, we return to Europe and visit the land of royalty and Coventry, where we enter the Coventry Cathedral (aka Cathedral Church of St Michael). This magnificent church edifice is a modern reconstruction of its original 14th-century predecessor that was devastated during the Second World War. But after its reconstruction, this stained glass has regained its former glory and remained among the most magnificent glass cathedrals in Europe.
8. The Most Expensive Stained Glass Window Worldwide (Washington, DC)
The Washington National Cathedral, which is a cathedral of the Episcopal Church, is located in Washington, DC, and features an impossing Neogothic design. Besides being the world’s most costly stained-glass window, this masterful artwork is also the sixth largest cathedral on earth and the second largest in the US. Additionally, it features numerous artworks that include more than 200 stained-glass windows, with the “Space Window” being the most familiar one – it was constructed to honor man’s alleged “landing on the moon.” Besides, the stained-glass structure is home to numerous memorials of personages and events that hold great significance to the American nation and its people. For instance, it hosts statues of venerated political leaders and fathers of the nation such as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. In addition, it has state seals imprinted in the mosaic floor of the narthex, state flags hanging along the nave, and stained glass remembering memorable events, such as the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima.
9. La Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain
Returning to Cataluña, on the west side of the Spanish Kingdom, we distinguish La Sagrada Família for its stained glass wonder. Renowned for its elevated naves and branching, it is a sight for sore eyes indeed. In addition, its tree-like columns have an embellishment of the tones of light shining through its windows and skylights.
10. The Wafi Mall, Dubai, UAE
From the Far East, we return to the Middle East and land in Dubai, the regions’ commercial capital. In this Emirati desert city lies the Wafi Mall. This shopping complex draws its inspiration from ancient Egypt, and it has a crown of stained glass pyramids that match with its marble floors carved statues.
11. Gran Hotel Ciudad de México, Mexico City
Back to North America, we land in Mexico’s capital city. Here, we find a famous five-star hotel. This hotel is famed the world over for its French Art Nouveau style that is punctuated by an exquisite Tiffany-glass canopy, alongside impressively arched balconies and wrought-iron elevators.
12. Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran
Touring the Middle East, we find the Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque, in Iran; popularly famed as the “Pink Mosque” owing to its rose-colored tiles. You can see this Islamic shrine better at dawn when the sun is making its splendid appearance in the country’s golden dawn skies. As the sun shines through its stained-glass windows, you can virtually feel like you are basking in the splendor that radiates from this masterfully designed edifice.
13. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
From Asia, we take our journey of discovery southwest and enter the land of kangaroos—Australia. In Melbourne, we enter a spectacular stained glass artwork called The National Gallery of Victoria. Having opened its Great Hall in 1968, the artistically constructed gallery features a majestic stained-glass ceiling created by Australian artist Leonard French. So captivating is its magnificence that visitors do not mind lying on its floor to witness the splendor of its many cut glass triangles that leave them standing in awe. The gallery is indeed the preservation of a worthy heritage and a celebration of artistic creativity.
14. Cosmovitral Botanical Garden, Toluca, Mexico
Still in Mexico, we come to The Cosmovitral Botanical Garden, which houses over 500 plant varieties. However, the collection nearly fades when you compare it to the sparkling stained-glass ceiling, an artwork that symbolizes dualistic ideas such as light and darkness and right and wrong. As for the amazing garden, it stretches for nearly 35,000 square feet.
15. York Minster, York, England
We end our world tour on an English note by landing at The Chapter House of York Minster. This magnificent construction is a stunning octagonal nave, which housed the Parliament of King Edward I in the 1200s. This building’s construction is largely stained-glass windows that enshroud the house in gentle light.
From Europe to America, to Asia, and all the way to Australia, the world is home to glorious pieces of stained-glass art, created to express man’s desire to praise the Lord, demonstrate mastery in art, and create artistic memorabilia of significant events that have shaken the world, one way or another. So, next time you are planning a trip abroad, it is definitely worth it to put some of the places mentioned above on your list. It will be a rewarding trip for sure!