Uncover the History Behind Lyon, France

Lyons is a city that bears testimony to how people from different backgrounds and countries can come together and make up a cohesive community. For more than 2 millennia, the place where the city of Lyon is situated has been home to generations of Europeans. The city’s architectural designs are an outstanding example of progress and evolution in the building and construction industry.

The Lyons landscape is dominated by two hills namely; Fouviere to the west and Croix-Rousse to the east. The Croix-Rousse is prolonged by alluvial deposits that have come from the confluence of River Saone and River Rhone. River Saone links the city of Lyons to the plains of north eastern France.

The city began as a Roman settlement on Fourviere. However, the area has been used by man for many centuries before. The Roman town would spread over to Croix Rousse and the entire peninsula. At around 3rd century AD, the town shrunk to two fortified villages; one on the right bank of Saone River called the bishop’s estate and another around the Saint-Nizier on the Peninsula.

The growth of the city was so dramatic such that by mid-15th century, it was one of the most populated cities in Europe with over 36 districts. Included in this were the German and Italian merchants and vineyard farmers. In the mid-16th century, the city went through a program of expansion led by the religious orders and by 18th century during the Revolution, the town’s land was so little that the land owned by the religious Orders was confiscated to open up space for building modern infrastructure such as roads.

Examples of the Roman city remains are gotten from the excavated theatre with a capacity to host 10,000 spectators and believed to have been constructed in 1st century AD; an Odeon with a capacity of 3000 people built in mid-1st century; an amphitheater on the Croix Rousse Hill (19BC); and an altar dedicated to Rome and Augustus.

  • The list below comprises of other notable buildings on the Historic center of Lyons.
  • Thomassin House in the Place du Change (late 13th century, enlarged 15th century)
  • The house of the poet Maurice Scève (1493; additional storey in the 17th century)
  • The Chamberlain's mansion (1495-1516)
  • The Mannerist house of the Lions (1647)
  • The classical building on the Quai Lassagne (1760)
  • The House of 365 Windows
  • The late 11th-century Manécanterie (Choir School)
  • The Ainay Abbey Church (1107) in full Romanesque style
  • The noble Cathedral of St John the Baptist (1160-1481)
  • The Church of Saint-Nizier (14th century)
  • The 17th-18th century Hôtel-Dieu
  • The Loge du Change (1745-80), now a Protestant church
  • The Fourvière Basilica (1872-96)
  • The École de Tissage (Weaving School (1927-33)

The city of Lyons is a mix of Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque and neo-classical architectural marvels. There is certainly no architectural style that was worth its salt that is not represented in the Historic Site. Make a visit to the city and enjoy the trip down the memory lane!

By Kennedy Runo about Lyon

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