Top 25 Lyon Attractions


The third largest city in France is over 2,000 years old. All the icon­ic sights of Lyon are asso­ci­at­ed with some kind of his­tor­i­cal event.


Who and why comes to Lyon

The majes­tic archi­tec­ture of the city has pre­served a few traces of the ancient Roman her­itage. A walk through the wind­ing streets, squares and quar­ters promis­es vivid impres­sions for aes­thetes.

Goth­ic church­es with dig­ni­ty sur­vived nat­ur­al dis­as­ters and wars. They are worth a vis­it for lovers of church art. Fres­coes, stat­ues, bas-reliefs and oth­er dec­o­ra­tive ele­ments deserve the clos­est study.

The muse­ums of Lyon store a vari­ety of exhibits — from medieval paint­ings to vin­tage cars. Vis­it­ing exhi­bi­tions will appeal to inquis­i­tive intel­lec­tu­als.


town hall

town hall

The majes­tic three-sto­ry town hall was built in the 17th cen­tu­ry accord­ing to the project of S. Maupin. The archi­tect endowed the build­ing with canon­i­cal baroque fea­tures, dec­o­rat­ing it with stuc­co, gold dec­o­ra­tive ele­ments and bas-reliefs. In the cen­ter of the build­ing ris­es a clock tow­er with a stone sil­hou­ette of a rid­er. The inte­ri­ors, dec­o­rat­ed with works of art, are just as pompous.

The façade of the build­ing over­looks Ter­ro Square, which has been notice­ably trans­formed since the con­struc­tion of the Town Hall. It became the cul­tur­al and admin­is­tra­tive cen­ter of Lyon.



Tra­boules are through pas­sages made right in build­ings. Made in the form of arch­es, cov­ered gal­leries and cor­ri­dors, they con­nect the streets and lanes of the old part of the city.

In the Mid­dle Ages, when the build­ing was most­ly chaot­ic, the locals sig­nif­i­cant­ly short­ened the route, using such pas­sages. Today, tra­boules are a pop­u­lar attrac­tion in Lyon.

National Opera

nac opera

The build­ing has an unusu­al exte­ri­or, which com­bines clas­sic and mod­ern. The opera house was built in 1831 and ren­o­vat­ed in 1993. The main result of the ren­o­va­tions is a glass cylin­dri­cal dome, under which there is a dance class. The audi­to­ri­um of the opera can accom­mo­date more than 1000 peo­ple.

Hotel Dieu

hotel die

Hotel Dieu (“House of God”) was built in the 17th cen­tu­ry. It served as a haven for pil­grims and cler­gy. The hotel was lat­er expand­ed and turned into a hos­pi­tal. The main build­ing was erect­ed in 1748 accord­ing to the design of Jacques-Ger­main Souf­flot. The clas­si­cal struc­ture with a num­ber of high win­dows is crowned by a giant dome with a cross.

Exchange Palace

hotel birgi

Built in the 19th cen­tu­ry on the Place de la Corde­liers, the Palais des Exchanges is not only a land­mark of Lyon, but also a sym­bol of the eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty of the city. The archi­tect of the palace was René Dard­el. The open­ing cer­e­mo­ny was attend­ed by Emper­or Napoleon III and his wife Eugene.

The exte­ri­or of the build­ing com­bines clas­si­cal restraint and baroque lux­u­ry. The façade is dec­o­rat­ed with columns, carv­ings, and stat­ues rep­re­sent­ing agri­cul­ture, indus­try, and trade. There is also a bas-relief by the mas­ter Vel­mar. He depict­ed the rivers Sona and Rhone as a man and a woman.

Amphitheater of the Three Gallias

amfiteatr treh galii

The ruins of a for­mer Roman amphithe­ater, built around 19 AD, are locat­ed on the Croix-Rousse hill. It got its name in hon­or of the three provinces (gauls): Aquitaine, Bel­gi­ca and Lug­dun Gaul, on the site of which mod­ern France is locat­ed.

Once upon a time, glad­i­a­to­r­i­al bat­tles were held in the amphithe­ater, sol­diers swore alle­giance to the emper­or, and the first Chris­tians were exe­cut­ed here. Today, it hosts the Fourvière Nights film fes­ti­val.

Near the amphithe­ater there are oth­er ancient sights: the the­ater, the remains of the aque­duct and the ruins of the tem­ple of Cybele.

Odeon on the hill of Fourviere

odeon na holme furvier

Once upon a time, the ancient Roman city of Lug­dunum was locat­ed on the Fourviere hill, the mon­u­men­tal ruins of which have sur­vived to this day. Of great­est inter­est is the Odeon, built around the 2nd cen­tu­ry AD.

The com­plex con­sists of an amphithe­ater with a capac­i­ty of about 3,000 spec­ta­tors, and a stage in the mid­dle with a diam­e­ter of 73 m. Per­for­mances, pub­lic dis­cus­sions were held here, impor­tant laws were announced.

pink tower

rosova basnia

This tourist attrac­tion appeared in the 17th cen­tu­ry — it was built by the archi­tect Sebas­t­ian Ser­lio. At the top of a semi­cir­cu­lar tow­er with arched win­dows there was a sen­tinel post, which was sup­posed to give an alarm in case of fire or oth­er dis­as­ter.

Lat­er, the struc­ture was crowned with bat­tle­ments. Behind the forged door is a tra­boule — a cor­ri­dor leads to the oppo­site bank of the Seine.

The leg­end explains the pink col­or of the tow­er in its own way. It says that a girl who was for­bid­den to mar­ry a loved one jumped from the high­est win­dow and spat­tered the walls with blood.

Fourviere Tower

basnia furvier

Fourviere was built in 1894 and is an exact copy of the third tier of the Eif­fel Tow­er in Paris. The height of the struc­ture is about 86 m, weight — 210 tons. The struc­ture stands oppo­site the Notre-Dame-de-Fourviere Cathe­dral. By the way, both tow­ers par­tic­i­pat­ed in the World Exhi­bi­tion: the Eif­fel tow­er in 1889, and Fourviere in 1914.

The author of the sec­ond was the archi­tect Ge. At the base of the met­al struc­ture, he placed a restau­rant, and at the top — an obser­va­tion deck, where vis­i­tors were deliv­ered by an ele­va­tor. Since 1953, the Fourviere Tow­er has been closed to the pub­lic and has been used as a TV tow­er.

Fresco Le Mur Des Canuts


A huge fres­co adorns one of the hous­es on the Croix-Rousse hill. It is made in the tech­nique of Trompe l’oeil, in oth­er words, “an opti­cal illu­sion”. At first glance, it is impos­si­ble to dis­tin­guish where the real char­ac­ters and details of the facade are, and where the draw­ing is. The mur­al was cre­at­ed in 1986, and then sig­nif­i­cant­ly sup­ple­ment­ed to reflect the dynam­ic changes in the area in appear­ance and atmos­phere.

Fresco des Lyonnais

fresla la fresque

The unique fres­co depicts a 7‑storey build­ing, on the bal­conies and in the win­dows of which you can see famous char­ac­ters who have left their mark on the cul­ture and his­to­ry of the coun­try. Among them are the chef Paul Bocuse, the inven­tor of the loom Joseph-Marie Jacquard, the Lumiere broth­ers, the Lit­tle Prince Exu­pery, the pup­pet Guig­nol and many oth­ers.

Religious sites

Cathedral Saint-Jean

sobor sen gan

The main cathe­dral of Lyon was built in the XII cen­tu­ry in hon­or of John the Bap­tist. Stones from the build­ings of the ancient Romans were used as build­ing mate­r­i­al. Due to the pro­tract­ed con­struc­tion, one part of the build­ing was made in the Goth­ic style, the oth­er in the Romanesque.

Inside, it is worth see­ing the stained-glass win­dows of the 13th cen­tu­ry, the stat­ue of John the Bap­tist and the func­tion­ing organ of the 19th cen­tu­ry. The astro­nom­i­cal clock of the 14th cen­tu­ry, the old­est in France, is also kept in the cathe­dral. They show not only the date and time, but also the phas­es of the Moon, the Sun, as well as the ris­ing of some stars in the sky of Lyon.

Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere

basilica notr dam de furier

The snow-white tem­ple, dec­o­rat­ed with a gild­ed fig­ure of the Vir­gin Mary, was built in the 19th cen­tu­ry on the Fourviere hill. This is a land­mark place where ancient Roman build­ings used to be locat­ed, the most famous of which is the amphithe­ater.

The basil­i­ca stands on the site of a church that was destroyed dur­ing the bloody con­fronta­tion between the Catholics and the Huguenots. On its ruins in 1870, the inhab­i­tants of Lyon prayed to the Moth­er of God for pro­tec­tion from the Pruss­ian troops. They promised to build a new tem­ple in hon­or of the Vir­gin Mary if she heard their prayers. The ene­my army did not reach the city. The Lyons kept their word.

The tem­ple con­sists of two lev­els. The ground one hon­ors the Moth­er of God, and the under­ground one is a crypt ded­i­cat­ed to St. Joseph. The inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tion of the basil­i­ca impress­es with splen­dor.

Saint Nisier Church

cerkov sent nisie

The church ded­i­cat­ed to Saint Nike­tios was erect­ed in the 5th cen­tu­ry on the ruins of an ancient Roman tem­ple. The remains of the first Chris­t­ian mar­tyrs who were exe­cut­ed not far from this place are buried here.

The build­ing has been mod­ern­ized sev­er­al times. The first glob­al recon­struc­tion took place in the 11th cen­tu­ry, and the last five cen­turies lat­er — dur­ing the last, the tem­ple acquired a Goth­ic look.

A dis­tinc­tive fea­ture of the church is two spiers of dif­fer­ent heights, built in dif­fer­ent cen­turies. The facade of Saint Nisi­er is dec­o­rat­ed with arch­es, tur­rets, sculp­tures and carv­ings that can be looked at for hours.

Museums of Lyon

Gallo-Roman Museum

gallo rimski museum

The muse­um is locat­ed on the Fourviere hill. The build­ing is so organ­i­cal­ly inscribed in the sur­round­ing land­scape that it is almost imper­cep­ti­ble. The archi­tect Bernard Zephryus did not want the remake to stand out against the back­ground of ancient build­ings.

Inside are valu­able items found dur­ing exca­va­tions of the ancient city of Lug­dunum. Some belong to the Roman era, oth­ers to the ear­li­er Celtic.

The exhi­bi­tion presents house­hold items, jew­el­ry, altars, sculp­tures, mosa­ic pan­els. Here you can also see the lay­out of Lug­dunum, which gives an idea of ​​what the ancient set­tle­ment looked like.

House of weavers

dom tkachei

In the XV-XVI cen­turies, Lyon was the cen­ter of the silk trade. Lat­er, the first weav­ing fac­to­ries appeared here, where, fol­low­ing silk, oth­er fab­rics began to be made, which became known far beyond the bor­ders of France.

The weaver’s house, locat­ed in the Croix-Rousse area, invites you to get acquaint­ed with this type of activ­i­ty. There are a vari­ety of machines here — some of them are even launched to demon­strate the weav­ing process to the tourists.

In addi­tion to the applied exhi­bi­tion, the muse­um also has a his­tor­i­cal expo­si­tion. She talks about the evo­lu­tion of fab­ric man­u­fac­tur­ing, as well as impor­tant events in the indus­try. For exam­ple, about the upris­ing of the Lyon weavers, when the work­ers took to the streets to protest against the low wages of their labor.

Museum of Fine Arts

musei iso

The muse­um is locat­ed in a for­mer Bene­dic­tine monastery in Piaz­za Ter­ro. Its rich­est col­lec­tion occu­pies 70 rooms and con­sists of works of art from dif­fer­ent eras and coun­tries.

Here you can admire paint­ings by Euro­pean mas­ters, includ­ing Tin­toret­to, Rubens, El Gre­co, Gau­guin, Degas, Cezanne and oth­er mas­ters. The col­lec­tion of sculp­tures is rep­re­sent­ed by mas­ter­pieces by Michelan­ge­lo, Rodin, Modigliani.

The hall of antiq­ui­ties exhibits ancient Egypt­ian exhibits, as well as arti­facts from Assyr­ia and Per­sia. It will take sev­er­al days to see all the exhibits.

Modern Art Museum

musei sovt isk

It is one of the largest and fastest grow­ing con­tem­po­rary art muse­ums in Europe. Its area is 2.7 thou­sand square meters. m, exhi­bi­tion halls occu­py 3 floors, and they con­tain more than 30 thou­sand works of art.

Most of all instal­la­tions are exhib­it­ed here. The vast ter­ri­to­ry allows artists to cre­ate art objects right in the muse­um. Exhi­bi­tions are updat­ed every 2–3 months. A bien­nale is held here every two years.

Museum of Fabrics and Applied Arts

musei textiles

The 18th-cen­tu­ry man­sion on the rue Charite actu­al­ly hous­es two muse­ums — tex­tiles and applied arts. They are inter­con­nect­ed, vis­it­ing both is car­ried out on a com­mon tick­et.

The Muse­um of Fab­rics was the first to open in 1864. At the moment, it hous­es more than 2 mil­lion tex­tile sam­ples, and some of the sam­ples are thou­sands of years old. This is not only silk, bro­cade and vel­vet from Lyon, but also fab­rics from all over the world.

The muse­um of applied arts recre­ates the inte­ri­ors of the 18th cen­tu­ry. The styl­ized rooms fea­ture tapes­tries, car­pets, antique fur­ni­ture, dec­o­ra­tive items, ceram­ics and oth­er attrib­ut­es that con­vey the atmos­phere of a bygone era.

Henri Malartre Museum

musei anri maliarta

Locat­ed 11 km from Lyon, in the pic­turesque 15th cen­tu­ry cas­tle of Rochetal-sur-Saone, the auto­mo­tive muse­um grew out of the pri­vate col­lec­tion of Hen­ri Malartre.

More than 100 cars are stored here, includ­ing Hitler’s Mer­cedes and Pope Jean-Paul II’s Renault, about 60 motor­cy­cles, about 50 bicy­cles and mope­ds, as well as pub­lic trans­port and a col­lec­tion of themed adver­tis­ing posters.

Places for walking

Area Confluence


Once an infa­mous indus­tri­al dis­trict, Con­flu­ence has become a trendy place with inter­est­ing archi­tec­ture, where young peo­ple and local bohemi­ans love to vis­it. The author­i­ties have invest­ed more than 150 mil­lion euros in the aban­doned area of ​​150 hectares.

Muse­ums, bou­tiques, restau­rants, gal­leries and lux­u­ry hous­ing have grown in place of ware­hous­es, destroyed fac­to­ries and work­shops. The unusu­al design of the build­ings will be an excel­lent back­drop for vivid pho­tographs.

Terro Square

ploshad terro

The cen­tral square of the city is con­sid­ered one of the main tourist attrac­tions. It is framed by the facades of his­toric hous­es, and the main dec­o­ra­tion is a foun­tain of the 19th cen­tu­ry, designed by F. Berthol­di.

The lead com­po­si­tion weighs 21 tons and depicts a char­i­ot drawn by four hors­es. On the east side stands the town hall, erect­ed in 1665. Here is anoth­er water work of art by con­cep­tu­al artist Daniel Buren — 69 small foun­tains built right into the paving stones.

Place Bellecour

ploshad belkur

One of the largest squares in Europe was found­ed in the 17th cen­tu­ry. Grad­u­al­ly, the perime­ter was built up with his­tor­i­cal build­ings and palaces. The whole ter­ri­to­ry is strewn with col­ored grav­el, in the cen­ter there is a mon­u­ment to Louis XIV by F. Lemo.

The Sun King is depict­ed as a Roman emper­or. In the 19th cen­tu­ry, pompous parades of Napoleon­ic troops took place on this square.

Croix-Rousse quarter

kvartal krua rus

This area in the 19th cen­tu­ry was cho­sen by weavers, who began to mas­sive­ly move here from Old Lyon. The pro­fes­sion­al com­mu­ni­ty turned into a pow­er­ful com­mune that lived in its own world. It is believed that the first tra­boules appeared in Croix-Rousse, when work­ers laid short routes through hous­es in order to move faster between work­shops and work­shops.

Oth­er attrac­tions in the area include a mon­u­ment to the inven­tor of the loom, Joseph-Marie Jac­card, a fres­co on the wall, and a huge boul­der found in 1890 dur­ing the con­struc­tion of the funic­u­lar.

Quarter “Old Lyon”

kvartal stari lion

The his­toric quar­ter is locat­ed at the foot of the Fourviere hill and stretch­es along the Saone riv­er. This place was inhab­it­ed in ancient times by the Gauls.

The main mon­u­ments and his­tor­i­cal sights are con­cen­trat­ed in Old Lyon. There are also through pas­sages of tra­boules and bushons — restau­rants of local col­or­ful cui­sine. The area con­sists of three quar­ters: Saint-Paul, Saint-Georges and Saint-Jean.


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