Historic Site of Lyons (1998)

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The long history of Lyons, which was founded by the Romans in the 1st century B.C. as the capital of the Three Gauls and has continued to play a major role in Europe's political, cultural and economic development ever since, is vividly illustrated by its urban fabric and the many fine historic buildings from all periods. 

France 1939. Lyon, Guillotière Bridge. France 1957. Lyon. The Roman Theatre "Fourvière". Stamp issued for the bi-millenary of Lyon.

Lyon bears exceptional testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two millennia on a site of great commercial and strategic significance, where cultural traditions from many parts of Europe have come together to create a coherent and vigorous continuing community. By virtue of the special way in which it has developed spatially, Lyon illustrates in an exceptional way the progress and evolution of architectural design and town planning over many centuries.  

France 2001. Renaissance mansion in Old Lyon.

Lyon, also known as Lyons, is a city in east central France and the capital of Rhône Department, located at the confluence of the navigable Rhône and the Saône rivers. Lyon is the third largest city in France, after Paris and Marseille, and has a metropolitan area second only to Paris in size and economic importance. 

The University of Lyon (1808) now consists of three separate campuses: the University Claude-Bernard, or Lyon I (1970); University of Lyon II; and University Jean Moulin, or Lyon III (1973). 

Special points of interest in Lyon include two Roman amphitheaters; the Cathedral of Saint Jean (12th century); the narrow streets and Renaissance mansions of Old Lyon on the eastern bank of the Rhône; the Musée Historique des Tissus, which has the largest collection of textiles in the world; and the museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in 1995 and was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.

  • France 2001. Renaissance mansions in Old Lyon. 

The city contains the oldest stock exchange in France and several noted restaurants. Paul Bocuse, one of the country's best-known chefs, operates an establishment in a nearby suburb. Lyon is also the site of annual trade fairs. A subway opened here in 1978. In 1981 Lyon became the first French city to be connected to Paris by the high-speed train known as the train à grande vitesse (TGV).

Lyon was founded in 43 BC as the Roman colony of Lugdunum and was the major city of ancient Gaul by the 2nd century AD. Christianity was introduced into Gaul at Lyon, and for centuries the city was a leading religious center ruled by archbishops. The French crown annexed Lyon in 1307, and later in the 14th century it became a center of trade and commerce famous for its silk industry. The modern industrialization of the city began in the 19th century. During World War II (1939-1945), Lyon was a major center of the French Resistance during the German occupation of France. Many immigrants from France's former colonial holdings in North Africa have settled in Lyon. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in France (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section France for further information on the individual properties.  

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Revised 09 sep 2007  
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