The great catherdral mystery

Still the largest masonry dome on earth after more than six centuries, it is taller than the Statue of Liberty and weighs as much as an average cruise ship.

The great catherdral mystery

These skyscrapers of stone dominate skylines for nearly 1, years. How, in the Middle Ages, without the benefit of modern tools and technology, did engineers construct The great catherdral mystery cathedrals?

Now, experts explore a radical new theory: People were using the proportions by which God had created the universe. But to unlock the cathedral code, investigators must strip these medieval mega-structures to their bare bones.

John James

Very slowly, let the pressure go. They've got to figure out how cathedrals could reach such spectacular heights and what pushed some to the brink of collapse? Now, can these experts solve one of the greatest medieval mysteries? How on earth did they build the Gothic cathedral?

Taller than the ancient pyramids in Egypt, large enough to hold the Statue of Liberty; a hundred million pounds of stone, seemingly weightless, yet as heavy as the Empire State Building.

This is a revolution in building: From the moment they appear in Europe, about a thousand years ago, they spark an intense rivalry between cities.

The great catherdral mystery

They consume the labor of entire towns, sometimes taking a hundred years to build. With just hand tools and stone, master craftsmen find ways to defy gravity, pushing to greater and greater heights.

But this race for height sometimes leads to disaster. One of the tallest cathedrals collapses twice. Many others still teeter on the brink of catastrophe. It's frightening to see.

This is the least stable bay in the entire building. How on earth did medieval builders construct these skyscrapers of stone? And what caused some to collapse? Now, two teams uncover the engineering secrets locked inside Gothic cathedrals.

One team reassembles a Gothic church in California, to discover how cathedrals went up. This is the first time we've seen this all together, it's really amazing.

Another team, in France, uses laser scanning to investigate why some of the tallest cathedrals fell down. This is an exciting building, because it's come through a whole series of catastrophes. What pushed cathedral builders to such dangerous heights?

Experts explore a radical new theory: We can analyze medieval manuscripts that show the Temple of Solomon, and guess what it looks like? It looks like a Gothic church. Embedded in stone and stained glass, is there a hidden mathematical code that unlocks the secrets of Gothic cathedrals?

At the dawn of cathedral construction, in the late Middle Ages, around the 12th century, building with stone was dirty, difficult work. No one knows this better than these modern craftsmen.

Southeast of Paris, France, they are building a medieval castle, using only traditional tools and local materials: They're rediscovering the same methods used to construct Gothic cathedrals. Their castle, called Guedelon, stretches about half the length of a football field.

It's part tourist attraction and part medieval construction lab. We're building to understand. It's an experimental archaeological site, and the idea is to get as close as we can to the reality of medieval construction work.

The team's challenge today is how to build a wall on the upper floor of the castle.The precision of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral's famous dome would be difficult to re-create today, even with modern laser levels, GPS positioning devices, and specialized software. The Great Vigil and First Eucharist of Easter Saturday, March 31, | pm Join us as we observe the Paschal Mystery—the passage from darkness to light, from death to life—through the retelling of the history of salvation, powerful music and the administration of Holy Baptism.

TIMOTHY VERDON (Cathedral Foundation Museum): With the dome, Florence moves into an entirely different dimension. The dome becomes the hub of a new city, of a new world. The dome becomes the hub of a new city, of a new world. The dome that crowns Florence’s great cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore—the Duomo—is a towering masterpiece of Renaissance ingenuity and an enduring source of mystery.

Nova: The Great Cathedral Mystery The program Nova The Great Cathedral Mystery on PBS was very interesting to watch. I never thought about how the cathedral or the Duomo built by Filippo Brunelleschi was a mystery until I watched this documentary.

Great Catherdral Mystery How did Filippo Brunelleschi do it? The dome that crowns Florence’s great cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore—the Duomo—is a towering masterpiece of Renaissance ingenuity and an enduring source of mystery.

"The Mystery of the Great Labyrinth, Chartres Cathedral" by John James