Lyon is a city in the Rhône Valley of France. Known for its magnificent architecture, Lyon is full of Medieval and Renaissance buildings.


The Presquâéle, a peninsula between the Rhône and the Seine, north of the spot where the two rives converge, is in the center of Lyon. This section of Lyon is known for its restaurants and shops.


Place Bellecour, at the center of the Presqu'île, is the largest open square in Europe.


In the middle of Place Bellecour is a statue of Louis XIV which was erected in 1825. It replaced an earlier statue of the king that was melted down during the French Revolution,.


There is a large clock tower in Place Bellecour, located at the end of the square near the Rhône. This clock tower was once part of the Hospice de la Charité, which was once one of Lyon's most important hospitals.


The Hospice de la Charité was erected in 1617. It was paid for by public donations.


In 1933, the Hospice de la Charité was destroyed because conditions in the hospital were unsanitary. The clock tower is the only part of the building that still stands.


St Jean Quarter in Lyon, northwest of Place Bellecour, has many buildings from the Late Medieval and Renaissance periods.


This is where you will find the magnificent Saint-Jean Cathedral. Construction of the cathedral began in 1180. The building was not finished until 300 years after.


Because it took so long to complete, Saint-Jean Cathedral combines several different styles of architecture. The apse and the transept are Romanesque, the nave bad the towers are in the early Gothic style, and the style of the facade and some of the chapels is late Gothic.


Saint-Jean Cathedral has an astronomical clock that was built in the 14th century. At noon, 1 PM, 2 PM and 3 PM, when the clock strikes, you can hear bells ringing and see cocks crowing. Doors in the clock open and puppets come out and perform activities that are supposed to represent the Annunciation.




The city of Lyon was founded by the ancient Romans in 43 BC, who gave it the name Lugdunum. It was settled by refugees from the Roman town of Vienne, who had been driven out by the local tribe.


After the decline of the Roman Empire in the West, Lyon was invaded by Germanic tribes a number of times.


The Burgondes tribe made Lyon their capital. They were driven out by the Franks in 500 AD.


In the 730s, the Moors invaded France. They captured Lyon in 732, killing many of the city's inhabitants and destroying the city's fortifications and its religious buildings.


Charles Martel, a Frank, defeated the Moors a few years later.


Lyon fell under the rule of the French crown in 1307.


The city was devastated by the Plague in the mid-14th century, and did not recover for almost 100 years.


It began to expand in 1419, when the Lyons Fairs were set up to attract foreign traders. At the Lyons Fairs, people could trade in any currency and goods were not taxed.


Soon, the city became an international baking center.


In 1536, Francis I allowed Genoese silk workers to move to Lyon and be exempt from taxation. This resulted in Lyon becoming an important center for the silk industry.


The printing industry also increased in importance, and by the 16th century, the printers of Lyon had established their own quarter.


During the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, the Revolutionary government began to destroy Lyon.


In 1800, Napoleon had Lyon rebuilt and encouraged its economic growth.


Lyon played in important role in the Resistance movement during World War II; many underground newspapers and organizations had their headquarters there.