For 1500 years the dome atop the church of Hagia Sophia has soared above the skyline of Istanbul. For the first 800 of those years, Hagia Sophia was the largest domed building in the world. Situated on a dangerous fault line, a massive earthquake hits Istanbul once every 150 years. But through centuries of devastation, the dome of Hagia Sophia has survived. Today, scientists using sophisticated computer models are racing the killer quake. In an attempt to save the ancient glory of Hagia Sophia, they're trying to solve the great mystery of its architecture -- how has this building survived the destructive force of earth-shattering quakes for so long? Will this next big quake finally topple Hagia Sophia? Or does the dome contain engineering secrets that protect it from destruction? Amazingly, fate gives us a chance to find out the answer, as we examine the aftermath of the devastating August 1999 earthquake.

 

Premiere broadcast on the Discovery Channel -- October 1999

 

Providence Pictures
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