Lyon is a city that is located in the Rhone-Alpes region of France. It is located about four hundred and seventy kilometers from Paris and about three hundred and twenty kilometers from Marseille. The city covers an area of over forty-seven kilometers and has a population of over four hundred and seventy thousand people. While not being the political capital of France, Lyon is considered to be both the business and gastronomical capital of the country. Lyon is also a major industrial center in France and produces various chemical, software and pharmaceuticals products.
The city was originally established as a Roman colony by Munatius Plancus in the first century and was situated on Fourviere Hill. Its name at the time was Lugdunum which meant “Hill of the crows”. The city’s position on the natural freeway between northern and southern France made it a natural center of trade and communication. As such it was the beginning point of the vast Roman network of roads throughout Gaul and it quickly was named its capital. During this time two notable Roman emperors were born here, the emperors Caracalla and Claudius. During the nineteenth century the city would become an industrial center.
The twentieth century saw the urban development of the city expand. During World War II, this city would be the center and the driving force of the French Resistance against the German invaders. After the end of the war, Lyon developed a large transportation system and added various tourist facilities, such as museums and hotels. During the 1980s, the infrastructure of the city continued to expand and improve. The city especially paid attention to its historical monuments and started working on renovating and preserving them.
Today, Lyon is the second wealthiest city in France, after Paris, and has a Gross Domestic Product in excess of fifty-two billion euros. The city has also been the headquarters of many national and international companies. Some of these include Euronews, BioMerieux, Compagnie Nationale du Rhone and GL Events. A growing part of Lyon’s economy is its tourism industry. The city enjoys over one billion euros in tourist dollars every year and hotel bookings from tourists account for an additional three million hotel stays over the course of a year. This city is also known for its hostels and Lyon is ranked in first place in that category.
One of the most prominent tourist attractions in the city is the Place Bellecour. This square is located in the Ainay district of Lyon and measures three hundred and twelve meters by two hundred meters which gives it an area of over sixty-two thousand square meters. It is completely free of any trees or shrubbery and is considered to be one of the clearest squares in all of Europe, as well as being the largest pedestrian square. Situated in the middle of the Place Bellecour is an equestrian statue of King Louis XIV. It was designed by Francois-Frederic Lemot, and the statues features the statues of Saone and Rhone at the statues feet. The original statue that stood on its site was erected in 1713, but was torn down to make cannonballs during the French Revolution. The current statue was erected in 1825. Also located on this square are the office of tourism and an art gallery.
Another tourist attraction in the city is the Muse des beaux-arts de Lyon. This is the cities museum dedicated to fine arts. It is situated near Place des Terreaux and is located in a Benedictine convent that was erected in the seventeenth century. This was one of the historical landmarks in the city that went through an extensive restoration during the 1980s and 1990s. Housed in this musuem are various antiquities which come from Egypt, and a large collection of modern art. It also contains a collection of art that ranges from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. Artist represented by the paintings in the museum include Nicolas Poussin, Philippe de Champaigne, François Boucher, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, El Greco, Antonio de Pereda, Francis Bacon and Nicolas de Stael.
A historically significant site in the city of Lyon is the Hotel-Dieu de Lyon. This building was first constructed in the twelfth century and was used as a gathering place for domestic and foreign members of the clergy. However, when Dr. Maitre Martin Conras entered the city he converted it into a hospital in the fifteen century. During the seventeenth century the hospital went through a series of expansion projects. This continued until the eighteenth century when Soufflot replaced the building and erected the building that we see today. Today, it still serves as an important hospital in Lyon, but also houses an exhibit chronicling the history of medicine from the middle ages to modern times. This exhibit is called Musee des Hospices Civils.
No trip to Lyon would be complete without a visit to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere. This minor basilica was built in 1896 with the use of private funds. It was designed by Pierre Bossan and combines elements of the Byzatine and Romanesque architectural styles. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere features four main towers and is adorned with stained glass, mosaics and the crypt of St. Joseph. And its pinnacle is a gold gilded statue of the Virgin Mary. The basilica is also home to the Museum of Sacred Art. This beautiful basilica is located on top of Fourviere hill and receives over one and a half million visitors each and every year.
Lyon is a city that is rich in history as much as its rich in culture. This French city has almost too many attractions and historical locations to list in one place. But, some of the more prominent locations, not already covered here, include the Tour metallique de Fourviere, Sainte Marie de La Tourette Monestary, Opera National de Lyon, Cathedrale Saint-Jean, Basilica of St-Martin-d’Ainay, La Mouche Cattle Market and Abbatoir and the The doorway of St. Nizier’s.