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Lyon History, France

Halfway between Paris and Montpellier, Lyon is the French capital of fine cuisine and fine film-making. In fact, Lyon is a jack of all trades: in addition to its economic importance, it is famous for its football team, and for being the headquarters of several internationally known institutions. In the past, Lyon was rumoured to be a dark and dreary place, but nowadays its slightly gothic atmosphere is one of its best features. Overall, Lyon is a lively and exciting city with a long history. Most of its buildings, street corners and parks have a story to tell, and if you’re lucky, some café philosopher might even tell you some interesting facts about his hometown. This Lyon History Guide will give you some basic info about the past of this unique city.

Lyon History - Foundation and early history

Like many other French cities, Lyon started off as a Roman colony. Munatius Plancus founded Lugdunum in 43 BC. The name of the city originally mean “the hill of lights”, in honour of a Celtic deity. The strategic importance of the settlement did not go unnoticed, and several major trade roads were built to pass through the city. Naturally, the city became one of the most influential in the province of Gaul, eventually becoming its capital. Christian persecution was especially strong in Lugdunum, which has given birth to quite an impressive number of saints. In the first millennium, Lyon was raided by tribes of nomads, after which it came under the control of the Kingdom of Arles, and it was finally integrated into France around the 14th century, during the reign of Phillip the Fair. During the 15th century, Lyon became the site of yearly international fairs which attracted participants from all over Europe. The king of France ma de a habit out of visiting Lyon a few times a year, and his presence usually drew a sizeable crowd of artists and architects.

Lyon History - Modern History and Present

The French Revolution left Lyon somewhat The 19th century saw the development of the silk industry in Lyon. Several foreign banks opened branches in Lyon, and Lyonese banks were created from scratch. The industrial revolution boosted considerably the city’s economy, and by the 20th century, Lyon became on the most prominent cities in France. After World War II, Lyon’s infrastructure helped it to gain a European dimension sooner than other French cities. Nowadays, Lyon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, and a great place to spend a vacation filled with culture, art and entertainment.

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Read our members' reviews about Lyon

  • WazlingA couple of days in Lyon
    review by Wazling posted more then 30 days ago
    Nice city with some good restaurants where you can taste the real french high quality food. Also cultural the town can offer you something, including a good archaeological museum, with a large part of an preserved roman city, for those who like old history. The town lies beautiful at the...
  • WazlingShort trip in Lyon
    review by Wazling posted more then 30 days ago
    It was a really interesting trip to Lyon. Several reenactment groups have been hired for showing the visitors of the museum of ancient rome the live of an roman soldier and the gauls. More than hundred people were disguised as soldiers and Gauls, useing costumes, that were as clos as possible to...
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Read our members' travel tips about Lyon

  • eratoSilk workshop
    travel tip by erato posted more then 30 days ago
    Silk is manufactured in Lyon since the 16th century. They make beautiful things of skill, it must be one of the best jobs. :) The workshop can be visited only by groups of 40-50 people, but if you have the chance to get into a group,...
  • blackangel_66Historical Museum and Puppet Museum
    travel tip by blackangel_66 posted more then 30 days ago
    The two museums are in the same building, one of the most impressive Renaissance mansions in Lyon built at the beginning of the 16the century. The Historical Museum of Lyon is like telling the story of the city and its people from the...
  • WazlingLocal roman museum
    travel tip by Wazling posted more then 30 days ago
    If you are at Lyon, you shoould visit the roman museum. It´is well done regarding the museums exhibiton and it also has got an open air area. There you can see a piece of the roman city Lugdunum, today Lyon. It´s worth avisit.
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