Sainte Chapelle, France
While many claim that Paris’ must-see cathedral is Notre Dame de Paris, Sainte Chapelle should also be high up on the list. This stunning Medieval Gothic gem was commissioned by Louis IX in 1239, who, in a typical, decadent monarchical fashion, required nothing short of an opulent cathedral to store his vast collection of Christian relics.
Within the highly-vaulted ceilings of the church are fifteen of the world’s finest stained glass windows, all of which depict highly saturated and detailed scenes from the Old and New Testament. These walls weren’t so divine that they were immune to human tampering, though; as a result of the French revolution, one third of the stained glass installations had to be replaced.
The Chicago Cultural Center, USA
While the Windy City might not house the nation’s winningest sports teams, it does boast one of the world’s most impressive displays of stained glass. Today’s Chicago Cultural Center, which was originally designed as a library in 1887, features a 38-foot tall Tiffany glass dome, which many Chicagoans claim to be the largest Tiffany dome in the world.
Grossmünster Church, Switzerland
Within the ancient, austere walls of this Zurich place of worship (courtesy of great reformer Huldrych Zwingli) lays some extravagant 20th century art. In 2009, artist Sigmar Polke took to the iconic Swiss church and vamped it up with stained glass windows made of the semiprecious stone agate to set the cavernous interior aglow. The aesthetic “reformation” was as visually pleasing as it was necessary; 19th century composer Richard Wagner was known to have made fun of the church’s two-spired appearance, dubbing it the Church of “Two Pepper Dispensers”.