Set Current Location
The word "terreaux" describes the old moats and medieval mud ("terre") walls that protected the town up to the end of the 16th century. These were filled in to make room for a large square where the town's guillotine was erected. It is the second most important square after Place Bellecour, as it is flanked by Palais Saint Pierre and the Hôtel de Ville (city hall). In 1892, the city council bought a statue from the famous sculptor Bartholdi (of Statue of Liberty fame) which Bordeaux had commissioned then refused.
A work of famous 19th-century sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who has the majestic Statue of Liberty to his credit, Fontaine Bartholdi serves as a prime landmark at Place des Terreaux. Built in the year 1889, its construction was was funded by Bordeaux city authorities and it has been at its present site since the year 1892. The carved wonder depicts France and its four major rivers, that are represented by those intricately designed horses. In the year 1995, Fontaine Bartholdi was designated as monument historique and it continues to draw in crowds from far and wide.
As early as the Middle Ages, Lyon was recognized as a major commercial hub between Flanders and Italy. The town became a center for cloth craftsmanship and, as of the 15th Century, three or four important trade fairs were held at the Place du Change. Several families made their fortunes from these fairs and one of them, the Thomassins, had a private mansion built on the Place du Change. This mansion is one of the oldest of its type in Lyon (built in the 14th Century) but what you see now is a 15th-century reconstruction which has been restored. The façade is interesting especially for its delicate sculptures and the arches on the 2nd floor.
Place Bellecour is one of the few remaining Royal squares in France: the French Revolution took its toll here as elsewhere and the statue erected by Desjardins in 1691 was destroyed. A sculptor named Lemot built a new statue of Louis XIV in 1828. At the base of the pedestal, 2 statues of the Coustou brothers symbolize the Rhône river (East) and the Saône river (West). This huge square measuring 310x200m has a surface of red sand and is as important to Lyon's heritage as the Basilique de Fourvière. Some say this square serves no purpose except as the starting point for various rallies and demonstrations but in fact, it is a unique 18th-Century ensemble.
Place Antonin Poncet is tucked between Place Bellecour and the banks of the Rhône. It is a relatively recent addition to Lyon's urban squares as it was laid out in 1934 when the Hopital de la Charité was demolished to make way for the Post Office building (Hôtel des Postes). This square has plenty of greenery, benches and fountains that could make its neighbor, Place Bellecour, jealous. The tower that stands opposite the Post Office is a monument to the hospital for the needy, built in 1665-66 and a good example of civil Renaissance architecture with Doric and Ionic columns. The Hotel des Postes was built from 1935 to 1938 by M. Roux-Spitz and typifies the massive, solid architecture of the 1930.
Built between 1872 and 1884 by the architect Pierre Bossan, the Basilique de Fourvière, that has been nicknamed the "upside-down elephant" is representative of the eclecticism of the end of the 19th Century. The oriental, symbolic and neo-classical influences (twisted columns and columned porticoes) are mixed with architecture inspired by the medieval style towers, which creates a shocking fortress church. An observatory offers spectacular views, and under the basilica is a crypt, accessible from the esplanade. Guided tours are available.
The esplanade on the left side of the Basilica of Fourvière provides one of the best views of the city: the Croix-Rousse and the Terreaux district on your left, the roofs of Saint Jean down the hill, and on your right the Place Bellecour. Panoramic signs point you in the right direction, but don't forget your binoculars! For those who are not put off by climbing 200 steps, a staircase takes you to the observatory right at the top of the basilica giving you practically a bird's eye view.
Tour Métallique is a steel clad tower that is reminiscent of Paris' most beloved landmark, the Eiffel Tower. Three years younger than its Parisian cousin, Lyon's Tour Métallique is only 85.9 meters (281.8 feet) high but it still makes for the city's highest points. It is an architectural wonder to behold, and is especially breathtaking when it is illuminated. Like its taller sister, the tower is now used as a television relay station. While visitors cannot go up the tower anymore, they can still view the 210-ton tower from a distance.
Sheltering some of the most ancient Roman relics like thermal baths and tombs, the archaeological park on the Fourviere Hill is a treasure trove of Roman history. The Fourvière Archaeological Park boasts two remarkable archaeological finds: a Roman theater that happens to be the oldest of its extant in Gaul, and an Odeon dating back to early 2nd Century. These two theaters are believed to have been the heart of community life in the area and were large enough to accommodate over 13,000 people. The ruins were discovered in the early 20th Century, and have since been restored to full working order. Theater-lovers can take in a show in this unique venue, while visitors to the park can walk around these monuments of the past while enjoying views of the sparkling Rhône and Saône rivers.