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.
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.
Established in the 19th Century, Parc de la Tête d'Or is a cornucopia of entertainment, with its zoo, 5-hectare rose garden, an enormous greenhouse filled with exotic species, and a mysterious island. This lush green park is considered to be the lung of Lyon. With pony rides, jogging and cycling paths, a mini-golf course, a toy train track, and several sporting facilities, there is no shortage of entertainment here. There are also stalls for food and souvenirs. The Jardin Botanique de Lyon and the Statue which commemorates the twenty-second G7 conference are popular tourist attractions.
The Gillet family, some of the biggest industrialists in Lyon, had their private mansion called "Villa Gillet" built in Parc de la Cerisaie, situated in the Croix-Rousse area. The city council bought it in 1976 and it is now dedicated to art with a special section that promotes modern art (music, painting, sculpture, photography, video, literature etc). In the actual park, which is one of the nicest in the area, there are various sculptures (by J.B. Raynaud, B. Pagès and others) to be discovered.
Since the 16th Century, Lyon has been the city of silk. The Atelier de Soierie demonstrates and allows one to appreciate how squares of silk are colored in typical Lyonnaise fashion. Visitors can actually see a demonstration of how products are made. On display here are Duffy Palmes, Cornets, Fragments Persans and Herade. There is a shop where you can buy cravats, shawls, silk squares, scarfs and more.
UNESCO recently listed the old part of Lyon, Vieux Lyon, including the Croix-Rousse and Presqu'île areas as a world heritage site. This Gothic and Renaissance district, famous for its maze of narrow streets and elegant buildings certainly deserves it! The culturally rich district is famous for its quaint cathedrals, churches, and building of historic importance. The office du Tourisme de Lyon organizes guided tours in English and French, which help you discover the best of Old Lyon.
Palais du Commerce is a stock exchange built by R. Dardel between 1855 and 1862. The main room is a glass-roofed, atrium-style hall with ancient galleries facing the exterior and the sculpted decor is sumptuous. Place de la Bourse on the northern side of the building was recently converted into a pretty little garden by A. Chemetoff. Try to see the sculptures by G. Bonnet on this façade or if you prefer neoclassical architecture, go to the south façade.
This private mansion was built at the end of the 15th century and bought by the town of Lyon early in the 17th century to store council archives and as a venue for council meetings. Like most of the mansions in this neighborhood which were built at the end of the Middle Ages, the floors are connected by a series of loggias that open onto a central courtyard. The building has been perfectly restored and now houses the Musée de l'Imprimerie. Visitors can walk into the courtyard without charge to admire the remarkable mullioned windows in the loggias and the stele commemorating the first town meeting that took place in this mansion in 1604. Numerous exhibitions on graphic art, prints, calligraphy and photographs are organized throughout the year. Various enjoyable activities, seminars and workshops are organized for children as well as adults.
The structure of Chapelle de la Trinité is a rare combination of classical architecture and rich baroque decoration. Rightly clasified as a Historical monument, its interiors are richly done up in mute tones and inspire a sense of awe. Following ten years of restoration work, the Chapelle is open for guided tours to learn about its history since construction in 1617. Concerts, musical festivals (Baroque Music Festival of Lyon), and cultural events are hosted in the space throughout the year, including the annual Festival de Musique Ancienne de Lyon running through December. Check website for more details.