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54:08 | Design and technologies
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Legendary Megastructures

Season 1  |  Episode 1  |  The History Channel

In 1858, Virgin Mary appears 18 times in the Grotto of Massabielle. At first, nobody believes it, but when the Catholic Church recognised the place, the construction of one of the biggest Christian complexes begins, and pilgrims rush to visit it... Today, it is the second most visited Catholic complex with about 600000 visitors per year. How did the architects manage to build big enough structures to welcome all these believers? 52 hectares, is the surface area on which the domain of the sanctuary spreads. It includes natural places such as the grotto, as well as monumental structures built by men: 15 pools, a church, no less than three basilicas, and a 1500 metres-long Stations of the Cross. Let's get back to the construction of these extravagant edifices. Four religious edifices were built one after another. The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in 1866, the Rosary Basilica in 1881, the Basilica of St Pius X in 1956, and finally, the church of St Bernadette in 1986. All built in different styles and different times, what technical challenges had to be risen to for these constructions to see the light of day? What difficulties were encountered during the works? This film is the incredible story of a serious challenge: how to succeed in welcoming hundreds of thousands of believers while respecting and resisting the hostile natural environment of the Gave de Pau river.

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