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Panorama of Lyon and its rich architecture

Building Lyon

Lyon has a rich and diverse architectural history, as evidenced by its historic center, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998!

1) UNESCO-listed architecture

UNESCO has recognized these areas of Lyon for their exceptional historical, architectural and cultural value, and for their role in preserving the city’s history and culture. More specifically, four areas of Lyon have been listed: Fourvière hill, the districts of Vieux Lyon, the heart of the Presqu’île and Croix-Rousse hill.

Lyon and its UNESCO perimeter

On the map opposite showing the UNESCO perimeter in Lyon, the red line represents the perimeter inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, while the green line indicates a buffer zone designed to preserve the area surrounding the site.

Source : https://www.lyon.fr/projets-urbains/perimetre-unesco/le-perimetre-unesco 

2) Let’s retrace Lyon’s exceptional architectural history from west to east:

The capital of the Gauls has a history spanning more than 2,000 years, the vestiges of which you can still appreciate. More specifically, Lyon’s architecture is distinguished by a unique development and preservation that runs from east to west. Beginning on the Fourvière hill, the city developed in the Middle Ages at the foot of the hill in present-day Vieux-Lyon, then crossed the Saône, before crossing the Rhône.
Fourvière hill – Roman Lyon: Lugdunum was founded on one of these hills, Fourvière, in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus, Caesar’s lieutenant and governor of “hairy Gaul”. The city was soon designated the capital of Lyonnais Gaul. Emperor Augustus stayed here for a long time between 16 and 14 BC. Remains of Lyon’s Roman past can still be seen today on the Fourvière hill, where you can visit the Roman amphitheatre of the Three Gauls, the Roman theaters and its forum.

The roman theatres of Lugdunum
The roman theatres of Lugdunum

Source:  https://www.cestenfrance.fr/colline-de-fourviere-lyon/

winding streets of the Old town...and their "traboules"
winding streets of the Old town…and their “traboules”

Vieux-Lyon – Medieval Lyon: In both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Saône was the city’s main artery for commercial development. To the west of the river lies the Vieux-Lyon district, characterized by its narrow streets, traboules (narrow, covered passageways that ease traffic through the city), stone houses, Gothic churches, including Saint-Jean Cathedral, and picturesque squares.

Source : https://www.vanupied.com/lyon/quartier-lyon/quartier-saint-jean-fourviere-vieux-lyon.html  

The Presqu’île: Lyon from Renaissance to Modern: This area between the Rhône and Saône rivers is Lyon’s historic center, with its squares, shopping streets, classical buildings and architectural elements from the medieval and Renaissance periods. Its heritage, characterized by superb tenement buildings and private mansions such as the Hôtel Gadagne, reflects above all the Renaissance period of the 15th and 16th centuries, when Lyon was an important cultural and economic center in Europe.

French classicism of the 17th and 18th centuries then left its mark on the Presqu’île, with the creation of squares and classical buildings such as L’Hôtel-Dieu, a former hospital that is an impressive example of hospital architecture from this period.

Finally, the Presqu’Île reflects the modern period of the 19th century, marked by the construction of the Rue de la République, a main street lined with buildings inspired by the Haussmann style, or rather the Vaïsse style in the city between two rivers, and the construction of department stores and covered passageways.

The Peninsula and its long avenues and typical 19th century buildings
The Peninsula and its long avenues and typical 19th century buildings

Source : https://www.groupe-evotion.com/quel-visage-pour-la-presquile-demain/ 

Lyon the developer: La Part-Dieu: Developed from the 1960s onwards, this district has been a driving force behind Lyon’s economic growth, with the construction of its train station, offices, major thoroughfares and shopping center. France’s second-largest business district after La Défense in Paris, it is currently undergoing a major urban redevelopment project to combine economic activity with quality of life and environmental comfort.

The district of Part-Dieu and its skyscrapers
The district of Part-Dieu and its skyscrapers

Source: https://www.barnes-lyon.com/quartiers/part-dieu-7 

Lyon: The contemporary: The Confluence district: The southern end of the Presqu’île is the ultra-modern part of the city, with its bold, modern architecture, residential buildings, large shopping center and Musée des Confluences.

Contemporary buildings in the district of Confluence
Contemporary buildings in the district of Confluence

Source : https://en.visiterlyon.com/discover/heritage-unesco/contemporary/the-confluence-district 

Happy wandering around Lyon!!