Chartres Cathedral

Ancient Megastructures

June 10, 1194: A horrific fire ravages Chartres Cathedral in France. An ambitious plan to rebuild the ancient megastructure emerges from the ruins – despite the seemingly impossible challenges. The outcome will change the history of architecture forever, but within this tale of triumph lies a dark story of violence, political double-dealing and destruction. This documentary delves into the history of engineering the mighty Chartres Cathedral.

This 26-year reconstruction marks the high point of French Gothic art – the nave, and the porches tell a story of beauty and prowess. These features are built upon a Roman-style basilica with a huge crypt constructed years before under the direction of Bishop Fulbert and Geoffroy de Lèves.

The unprecedented project uses plans laid out by the original architect in order to preserve the church’s distinct design. Work begins first on the nave and by 1220 the main structure is complete. In 1260 Chartres Cathedral is finally dedicated in a glorious ceremony that includes King Louis IX and his family.