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NOVA: Rebuilding Notre Dame

Notre Dame Cathedral
Brian Lawrence / Alamy Stock Photo
Notre Dame Cathedral

Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV / Stream now with the PBS App + Encores Sunday. Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. on KPBS TV and 9 p.m. on KPBS 2

NOVA “Rebuilding Notre Dame” takes viewers behind the scenes of the historic restoration process of Paris’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, as architects, engineers, masons, and timber workers race to rehabilitate the Gothic landmark following the 2019 fire that almost destroyed the building. The structure was left significantly weakened, with concern for the entire cathedral collapsing.

NOVA: Rebuilding Notre Dame: Preview

The program traces the dramatic human and technical challenges of the project’s first three years, with a behind-the-scenes look at carpenters shaping lumber for the new roof and spire, stone masons repairing gaping holes in the vault, and artisans using traditional techniques to restore stained glass windows.


“It has been a great privilege to document the next chapter of Notre Dame’s astonishing restoration and to spend time with the inspirational scientists, historians and architects who are working to reopen the cathedral in 2024,” said Joby Lubman, director and producer of “Rebuilding Notre Dame”

Restoring Notre Dame's Iconic Stained Glass

The film follows logger Ahmet Cirpan and team as they comb public and private forests around France for 2,000 oak trees that could be used to reconstruct the so-called “forest” structure of the roof. It took huge imagination and levels of engineering to create this exceptional architecture, and the spire became the embodiment of the building and of the Paris skyline.

“I only have one goal—repair and rebuild the cathedral, put the rooster on top of the spire and say, ‘mission accomplished,’” says Chief Architect of Historic Monuments, Philippe Villeneuve.

NOVA: Saving Notre Dame’s Iconic Stone Vaulting

As art historians work on accurately restoring Notre Dame, they discover new complexity to the original site. The team pieces together the restoration process of Architect Eugène Viollet Le Duc, who led the 19th century restoration after the church was ransacked during the French Revolution, discovering that previous restoration projects were motivated not only by mere aesthetics, but also sophisticated engineering decisions.

Saving Notre Dame's Stained Glass Masterpieces

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“Rebuilding Notre Dame” is available for streaming online at, on NOVA’s YouTube channel, and on the PBS App, and available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast, and VIZIO.