9 of History’s Most Famous Windows

Windows are great! You already know that they improve your home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal but they have the ability to do so much more. They can tell stories, hold significant religious value and even give you your first glance into a new world. This article will focus on nine of history’s most famous windows. Get ready for some interesting window stories and designs!

1. The Pope’s Window

apostolic palaceThe Apostolic Palace has many windows (12,523 to be exact) but the Pope’s window is where the pope stands and recites the Angelus mass each Sunday.  The third story window doesn’t belong to the Pope’s room, but rather the papal study. The pope actually lives on the fourth floor.

It’s obvious the reason this window is famous is because of its ties to the Catholic Church. The Pope is a key figure of Catholicism and this is the window he stands at every Sunday for mass. That’s pretty significant!

2. Texas School Book Depository’s Most Notorious Window

texas school book depositoryThe Texas School Book Depository was nothing more than a warehouse for school textbooks until 1963 when it became the location of one of America’s most notorious murders. On November 22, 1963, an employee named Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President John F. Kennedy from a sixth floor window of the depository.

In 1970 the Texas School Book Depository moved out of the building and on President’s Day of 1989, the Sixth Floor Museum was opened.

3. Church of Notre-Dame Au Sablon’s Stained Glass

The Church of Notre-Dame Au Sablon is located in Brussels, Belgium and dates back to the 14th century. The entire construction took around a century to complete. The large Gothic church houses some of the most stunning stain glass windows on Earth.

Each of these windows stand around fifty feet tall and are broken into five separate panes. Each pane has a depiction of a different religious figure or saint.  The windows date back to the 19th/20th centuries and are the work of Samuel Couke, Louis-Charles Crespin and Jacques Colpaert. The windows alone draw thousands of tourists to the church each year.

4. Pioneering Technology: Microsoft Windows

windows 10 on a laptop, tablet and cell phoneMicrosoft Windows isn’t literally a window but has had an overwhelming global significance in the world of technology. Windows is the operating system developed by Microsoft. Founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, Microsoft looked to revolutionize the technology industry. They did just that in 1984 when they released Microsoft Windows a graphical extension for MS-DOS. The rest is history (which is still being written)!

Today Windows dominates the operating system market share accounting for nearly 90% of computers. Windows 10, Microsoft’s newest operating system, can be found in computers, tablets and cells phones.

5. Notre Dame Cathedral’s South Rose Window

notre dame cathedral's rose window and saintsHere is another Notre Dame Church with gorgeous windows. The Notre Dame Cathedral is located in Paris, France and construction started in 1163 under the order of Bishop Maurice de Sully after the Saint-Etienne Church was demolished. Construction of the Notre Dame Cathedral faced many set back including Maruice de Sully’s death but it was finally finished in 1345. It was one of the first buildings to use flying buttresses.

We aren’t here for  flying buttresses though. It’s all about the windows and the Notre Dame Cathedral has one of the most beautiful rose windows on Earth. It was a gift from King Saint Louis and was designed by Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil. It’s over 42 feet in diameter.

The rose window has eighty-four panes of glass divided into four circles. The first circle has twelve medallions, the second has twenty-four, the third has quadrilobes and the fourth had twenty-four trilobites. The number four and numbers divisible by four are symbolic throughout the rose window.

Under the rose window are sixteen panes of glass. Each one features one of the prophets.

6. The Chicago Cultural Center Dome

chicago cultural center's glass domeThe Chicago Cultural Center opened in 1897 and has been a popular tourist destination ever since. It’s where the mayor of Chicago welcomes the President and other leaders and diplomats when they visit Chicago.

One of the star attraction of the Chicago Cultural Center is the glass dome. The 38 feet diameter dome was cut in the shape of fish scales to give it a unique look. At the very top of the window are the twelve zodiac signs. Hanging down from the middle is a large, spherical glass chandelier. The window and chandelier were made by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York and the supporting frame was made by Chicago Ornamental Iron Company.

Over time the dome began to wear which forced the city of Chicago to restore it in 2008. Now, it looks like it did back in 1897.

7. Windows of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

netherlands institute for sound and visionThe Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision is a museum located in Hilversum, Netherlands which houses over 70% of the Dutch audio-visual heritage. However, the exterior of the building is enough to get tourists interested. The building is covered in colored glass infused with famous images from dutch television and movies. The idea was imagined and created by graphic artist Jaap Drupsteeen.

8. The Final Frontier: Vostok’s Porthole

Vostok I was launched into space on April 12th 1961 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan. Inside was Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin who became the first human being in space. Upon looking out of the porthole, the only thing Gagarin could say was “I see Earth, it is so beautiful.” It was the first time anyone saw Earth from space.

9. The Thirty Years War Starts with a Window

In 1617 Bohemians were rebelling the election of Duke Ferdinand because they feared he would revoke protestant rights. Things took another wrong turn on May 23, 1618 when an assembly of Protestants found two imperial governors guilty of violating the freedom of religion. It was decided they would throw them out of the windows of the Bohemian Chancellery into a pile of manure.

While the two imperial governors survived, the act started the Bohemian revolt. Ferdinand turned to Phillip IV of Spain (who was his nephew) for help. It wasn’t enough though because by 1620, the revolt turned into a continental conflict. This conflict was the thirty years war.

Windows Can Be More Than Just Windows

Those are nine examples of where windows were more than windows. They had more religious, regional, national, and personal meaning behind them. These windows even changed the course of history. Who knows what window will have the next major impact on society, we’ll just have to wait and see.



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