These skyscrapers of stone dominated skylines for nearly a thousand years. How, without the benefit of modern tools and technology did medieval builders construct Gothic Cathedrals? Now, a team of scholars and builders investigates how they we went up, and why some of the tallest fell down. Embedded in stone and stained glass, they uncover a hidden mathematical code—ripped from pages of the Bible—that was used as a blueprint to build the great Gothic Cathedrals.

Co-produced with NOVA, Telfrance, and ARTE/France
Premiere Airdate: October 19, 2010 on NOVA/PBS

 

In preparation for tomorrow night's premiere, NOVA has launched their own Building the Great Cathedrals web page.  Find out more about the film, learn how medieval glass makers created beautiful stained glass windows, and see if you can build your own stone arch without it collapsing!

Check it out here.

 

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The first review for building the Great Cathedrals is in! Jack Goodstein at BlogCritics calls the film "Fascinating!"

You can read the whole review here.

 

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With a height of over 500 feet, Beauvais Cathedral is one of the tallest cathedrals in the world. How were gothic builders able to raise blocks of stone weighing up to 3 tons to such towering heights?

 

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Except for the color in their stained glass windows, today, Gothic Cathedrals appear as drab as the material with which they were built: stone. But to medieval pilgrims, they were a kaleidoscopic feast for the eyes, inside and out.

 

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When gothic architecture emerged in 12th Century France, builders moved away from the thick walls and rounded arches of the Romanesque style to much thinner walls supported by pointed arches and ribbed vaults. This evolution in architectural technique is best illustrated by the ruins of Ourscamp where both styles are readily apparent.



 

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Gothic builders created soaring Cathedrals as places to worship God.  But, they also encoded their architecture and sculpture with pagan symbols and statues of scientific thinkers.  Join author Philip Ball as he deciphers the stone carvings of Chartres Cathedral.



 

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We brought photographer Mark Bussell to France on our shoot for Building the Great Cathedrals.  Check out a slide show of his beautiful photos on his site.

 

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