Lyon, history in capital

21 juillet 2016

In two thousand years, as the Rhone and Saone ran on its banks, Lyon has seen it all. From golden ages to wars, from fortune to misfortune, Lyon was successivelythe capital of Gaul, an ecclesiastical center, an industrial stronghold or a marketplace of silk … Today, as a European metropolis, the power of its History gracefully stands alongside plans for future. These multiple eras, some of which are as auspicious as the others are dark, allow Lyon to present an impressive cultural heritage with many faces.

Roman and Commercial

When a city has survived through centuries, history is inevitably written in his veins. The remains of Lugdunum (former name of Lyon) dating from the 1st century is still standing, more than twenty centuries after their construction. The aqueduct Gier, the Roman Tombs of Trion or the Three Gauls Amphitheatre are a living example. However exceptional these buildings are, the eyes of visitorssetmore often on one of the rarest archaeological duo of the ancient Gaul: the Odeon and the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière. Leaning against that site, the Gallo-Roman Museum has an outstanding collection tracing the history of Lyon since the end of prehistory until the seventh century. The Museum of Fine Arts, meanwhile, devotes an entire section to antiquity.

If the influence of Lyon dropped along with the Roman Empire, the city has been able to invent a future. As the Capital of the French Renaissance, cosmopolitan and open, vying Rome, Vienna and Venice and at the crossroads of Europe, Lyon became de facto the epicenter of the world trade. The facades of the “Vieux Lyon” mainly composed of townhouses, designed by Philibert Delorme after a trip to Rome, represent the subtle heritage of this Italian art. The traboules of this district – typical passageways of this city - are a Lyon peculiarity visited by millions of tourists who enjoy getting lost in this organized maze.

The silk city

Religious wars have tarnished the glory of Lyon: the city will only get back some of its superb in the eighteenth century, thanks to the weaving looms of the Industrial Revolution. That time saw the creation of the park of the Tête d'Or, where families still enjoy walking in the African zoo or the botanical garden. The silk loom’s technique played a key role in the invention of cinematography by the Lumière brothers. The eponymous Institute, located in the two brothersfamily home, presentsthe inventions of Auguste and Louis: photographs, first films, unusual objects ... Silk, always, as it allowed Laurent Mourguet to create the famous Guignolpuppet. Gadagne, beautiful historical monument of the Rhone valley, includes the World Puppet Museum and the Lyon History Museum. In the same spirit, it is possible to visit the Miniature Museum and Theater, the Fabric museum or the Museum of Printing to understand Lyon’s influence during the Industrial revolution, and its key role in the film and silk industry.

More recently, Lyon played another historical part as the capital of the French Resistance. Home of the French opposition as well as of the Gestapo headquarters, this land also saw the great Jean Moulin in action... facts related to the Resistance are numerous and impactful. In this sense, the Museum of Military History and the Resistance and Deportation History Centre are unmissable.


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