Ancient MegaStructures


Discover the secrets of revolutionary structures in Ancient Megastructures. Certain landmarks have captured the imagination and awe of modern-day architects and engineers around the world as they work to solve the mystery of how their ancient forebears were able to construct such beautiful, timeless and revolutionary structures with none of the machines and materials available to modern engineers. From the dreams that inspired them, to the blood and sweat that built them, discover the full story behind six magnificent structures that forever changed the landscape of architecture: Petra, Alhambra, St.Paul’s Cathedral, Hagia Sophia, Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat.

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Episode Description



Follow the dramatic story behind the building of the Colosseum in Ancient Rome. The Romans used innovative technology that we still use today, but the money to pay for the project enslaved the nation.


The Roman Empire


Chartres Cathedral

This is the dramatic story behind the building of the grand, gothic Chartres Cathedral 80 kilometres from Paris. How it arose like a beacon from the ashes of the older church, the scale of its ambition posing seemingly impossible engineering challenges. The medieval solutions pushed the latest construction techniques to the limit. The result would change the buildings of the world - forever. But behind this triumph of engineering lies a dark story of violence, political double-dealing and destruction.


The Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid of Giza is four-and-half thousand years old. It's the only ancient Wonder of the World still standing. It was conceived as a resurrection machine for the enigmatic pharaoh Khufu in 2551 BC and completed over 20 years later, just before his death. To cut and move the 2 million stones needed to build it would involve the organisation of the whole Egyptian state.


Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Built using techniques that surpass modern ones, the temples, altars and residences of Machu Picchu have resisted torrential rains, landslides and earth tremors since being abandoned by the Incas.


Taj Mahal


Istanbul's Hagia Sophia

Istanbul's Hagia Sophia Fiery Roman Emperor Justinian ordered the rebuilding of the great church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul almost 1500 years ago. Modern science now uncovers the secret to this vast golden dome's longevity.


St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral From the ashes of London's Great Fire in 1666 rises Christopher Wren's daring architectural vision. As England's first Baroque cathedral, St Paul's is an icon to rival the grandeur of ancient Rome.


Angkor Wat

Hidden deep in Cambodia's jungles, the temple of Angkor Wat is a towering monument to the Hindu god Vishnu, belying its origins as the mausoleum for a usurper king who murdered his great uncle.



Carved into the side of a narrow gorge in the unforgiving deserts of Petra in modern day Jordan, the ancient Nabataeans turned engineering on its head to create their glorious royal city, Khazneh.




The Alhambra

The Alhambra is the greatest example of Islamic military architecture in Europe. Sultan Muhammad I constructed this ingenious, impregnable fortress in 1238 amid treacherous political betrayals.