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Building the Great Cathedrals (2010)Building the Great Cathedrals (2010)

In the year 1144, in what is now a suburb of Paris, the magnificent Basilica of Saint-Denis opened its doors. In doing so, it signaled the emergence of Gothic architecture, and ignited a sort of civic competition in all of Europe for who could build the biggest and the best. For the average citizen back then who lived a dark, dirty, and drab existence, in an age when few people could read and write, to walk into a sacred space of this scale and magnitude, with its colored light of stained glass windows, must have been a truly other-worldly experience. How did they make these medieval mega-structures of stone and glass, the engineering innovations of flying buttresses and vaulted ceilings, with only hand tools and human labor? Why did some of them collapse? In this one-hour documentary, "a team of engineers, architects, art historians, and computer scientists searches the naves, bays, and bell-towers for clues. NOVA investigates the architectural secrets that the cathedral builders used to erect their towering, glass-filled walls and reveals the hidden formulas drawn from the Bible that drove medieval builders ever upward." I watched this movie from the PBS-NOVA website.

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