Some of the main results obtained in the field of glass-based photonic crystal (PC) systems using complementary techniques, such as radio frequency (RF) sputtering and sol-gel route, are presented. Initially, rare earth-activated one-dimensional PCs fabricated by RF-sputtering technique will be discussed, specifically the cavity is constituted by an Er3+ -doped SiO2active layer inserted between two Bragg reflectors consisting of 10 pairs of SiO2/TiO2/layers. Moreover, from near infrared, transmittance and variable angle reflectance spectra have verified the presence of a stop band from 1500 to 2000 nm with a cavity resonance centered at 1749 nm at 0 deg and quality factor of 890. In the second case, a composite system based on polystyrene colloidal nanoparticles assembled and embedded in an elastomeric matrix will be presented in detail. This system has been designed as a structure that displays an iridescent green color that can be attributed to the PC effect. This feature has been exploited to create a chemical sensor; in fact optical measurements have evidenced that this system presents a different optical response as a function of the solvent applied on the surface, showing: (1) high sensitivity, (2) fast response, and (3) reversibility of the signal change.