The Cathédrale St-Jean or Primatiale St-Jean is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Lyon, who holds the impressive title "Primate of the Gauls" and is the leading archbishop in France. The archdiocese of Lyon dates to Roman times, but Lyon's present cathedral was built between the 12th and 15th centuries.
History of Lyon Cathedral
Before the construction of Lyon's cathedral, the churches of Ste Croix (Holy Cross), St Etienne (St. Stephen) and a baptistery stood on the site. Remains of these structures can still be seen in an archaeological garden next to the cathedral.
The Cathédrale St-Jean was built over the course of several centuries, from about 1165 to 1480. The apse and choir is Romanesque, while the nave and facade are Gothic.
Church councils were held in Lyon Cathedral in 1245 and 1274. It also hosted a Renaissance wedding: in 1600, King Henry IV married Marie de Medici (whom he had just met) in the cathedral.
What to See at Lyon Cathedral
The medieval exterior of the Cathédrale St-Jean has a solid and solemn appearance. The oldest part is the east end, which was mostly completed by the end of the 12th century; the apse is considered a masterpiece of Lyonnais Romanesque architecture.
The Gothic nave with flying buttresses was built in the 13th century and the west facade, which resembles the transepts of the Notre Dame de Paris, is a Rayonnant Gothic work of the 14th century. The portals bear medallions depicting the Zodiac, Creation and the Life of St. John.
Inside, highlights include 13th-century stained glass windows in the choir and beautiful window tracery and vaulting in the side chapels. Especially notable among the latter is the Flamboyant Gothic Chapel of the Bourbons.
Probably the most unique and interesting feature of Lyon's cathedral is the 14th-century astronomical clock in the north transept. A marvel of technology and beauty, it chimes at 12pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm while a rooster crows and angels herald.
Adjoining the Cathédrale St-Jean is the 11th-century Manécanterie(choir school), with a 12th-century Romanesque facade. It houses the treasury and an archaeological garden.
Quick Facts on Lyon Cathedral
|Names:||Cathédrale Saint-Jean · Lyon Cathedral · Primatiale St-Jean · St-Jean Cathedral|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||45.760727° N, 4.827332° E|
|Hours:||Cathedral: Mon-Fri 8am-noon, 2-7:30pm; Sat-Sun: 8am-noon, 2-5pm|
Treasury: Tue-Sat 10am-noon, 2-6pm
|Lodging:||View hotels near Lyon Cathedral|
- Personal visit (October 2004).
- "Lyon." William W. Kibler, Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, 571.
- Frommer's France
- Photos of Lyon Cathedral - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Lyon Cathedral
Below is a location map and aerial view of Lyon Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.