Today, stained glass windows can be found across the United States, in churches, temples, and even people’s homes. But before stained glass ever became a common feature in American architecture, it found its beginnings way overseas, and grew in popularity in Europe. In fact, a set of what are believed to be the oldest stained glass windows existing today are from an old English monastery called Jarrow.

From these humble beginnings, stained glass blossomed as an art form and soon became commonplace. Today, stained glass windows can be found in numerous historic churches in Europe, many of which are considered to be masterpieces. Below, we’ve described a few of our favorite stained glass windows in Europe churches and buildings.

A Closer Look at Stained Glass in Europe

From England to Spain, stunning examples of stained glass can be found throughout Europe. Here are some of our favorite works.

Sagrada Familia

The stained glass windows in La Sagrada Familia in Spain have a beautiful, yet tragic history. The original architect, Antoni Gaudi, who was designing the cathedral, died suddenly after being ran over by a tram car before the construction of the building was complete. On top of this, years later, someone set fire to the church and several of Gaudi’s drawings were destroyed. However, his vision has been kept alive and construction of the cathedral continues still today. The stained glass windows were added in the year 2001.

Cologne Cathedral

Construction of Cologne Cathedral began in the year 1248. However, it took approximately 600 years for the entire building to be completed. Many of the original stained glass windows were removed during a redecoration project during the 18th century, however, some still remain within the church. These are expected have been created sometime between the years 1261-1332. The “Bible” windows are perhaps the most famous, and depict scenes of Christ’s life.

Reims Cathedral

Construction of Our Lady of Reims Cathedral began in 1210 after the church that held its place prior was burned down in a fire. Over the years, many French kings were crowned in the church and it also became the site of a memorial dedicated to Joan of Arc. Today, the cathedral is the home of several beautiful stained glass windows, including some contemporary works by famous artist Marc Chagall.

View More Examples of Beautiful Stained Glass

While Europe’s stained glass is certainly beautiful, you don’t have to go all the way overseas to see magnificent art. There are many beautiful stained glass windows here in the US, as well, including those in our studio. Check out our projects to see our work!

Martin Faith is an expert in the areas of stained glass conservation, preservation, and history. For over thirty years, he has been working as a stained glass artisan and restoration expert. Martin grew up studying stained glass in Glasgow, where he began acquiring and salvaging beautiful collectibles made by Scottish artisans. In Glasgow, he learned the critical skills and traditional techniques required for creating the stunning stained glass windows produced by his company today in the United States, where he now resides with his wife and family. Over the years, Martin has consulted on numerous church stained glass restoration projects throughout the nation, ranging in size and complexity. Martin and his team have successfully repaired hundreds of religious stained glass windows, including those belonging to churches, cathedrals, temples, and synagogues as well as all religious denominations. He has overseen over 50,000 projects in total and is one of the most accomplished professionals in the industry.