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  3. Lyon

Lyon, France

View of Old Lyon and the towers of the Cathédrale St-Jean. Photo Creative Commons License Diego Cupolo.

Lyon is the capital of the Rhone-Alpes region and the second-largest city in France. Located just two hours from Paris on the TGV, the city of Lyon is rich with religious and historical sites. It was first an important Roman capital, then a major Christian center. Today, Lyon is world-renowned for its history, architecture, culture and gourmet restaurants. There are many sights of religious interest in Lyon - see below for some of the best.

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Sacred Sites and Religious Attractions in Lyon

  • Saint-Martin-d'Ainay Abbey
    This Romanesque Benedictine monastery has Lyon's oldest church, dating from 1107.
  • Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules
    Constructed around 20 BC, this amphitheater was the site of martyrdom of St. Blandine and other early Christians.
  • Lyon Cathedral
    This church with a stout facade is the seat of the highest-ranking archbishop in France. Built from 1180 to 1480, it combines both Romanesque and Gothic styles.
  • St Bruno des Chartreux
    St. Bruno is a Carthusian monastery church, built in 1584 to accommodate monks traveling to the Grand Chartreuse near Grenoble, France.
  • St-Irénée
    This modest church marks the burial place of the early Christian leader St. Irenaeus (125-202), Bishop of Lyon. His tomb was destroyed in the Reformation, but the crypt can still be seen.
  • St-Nizier
    This Flamboyant Gothic church was built during the 14th and 15th centuries to commemorate the martyrs of Lyon. Further additions were made to the grand church over the centuries.
  • St-Polycarpe
    The Church of St. Polycarp was built as an abbey church for Oratorian monks in 1670. It was dedicated to Polycarp, an early Christian martyr who knew the Apostle John and taught St. Ireneaus of Lyon.
  • Grande Synagogue
    Lyon's synagogue was built in 1864 on the site of a former salt storehouse.
  • Mosquée de Lyon
    Lyon's mosque was built in the 1990s in a modern style by Lyon architects and funded in large part by the king of Saudi Arabia. Regular guided tours are available.
  • Notre-Dame-de-Fourviere
    Built in the 1870s as an expression of the Church's power and wealth, this Neo-Byzantine basilica shares much in common, both historically and architecturally, with the Sacre-Coeur in Paris.
  • Théâtres Romains de Fourvière
    These ruins of an ancient Roman complex include a theater (the oldest in France), an odeum and a temple dedicated to Cybele.