French industrial city and administrative centre of Rhônedépartement in the Rhône-Alpes region, part of which lies on the long tongue of land between the Rivers Rhône and Saône, 275 km/170 mi north of Marseille; population (2002 est) 444,100, conurbation 1,665,700. Lyon is France's third-largest city, second-largest urban agglomeration, and most important educational centre after Paris; its main industries are textiles, chemicals, machinery, and printing. Formerly a chief fortress of France, it was the ancient Lugdunum, taken by the Romans in 43 BC.
History The Roman colony gave its name to Provinicia Lugdunensis, one of the provinces of Gaul in the time of the emperor Augustus, and Lugdunum soon became the principal city of Gaul. It was here that Christianity was introduced into Gaul in the 2nd century AD. In 197 the town was razed by the emperor Septimius Severus against whom it had revolted. It was ruled by its archbishops until the beginning of the 14th century, when Philip (IV) the Fair incorporated it in the kingdom of France. During World War II Lyon was an important centre of the French Resistance.
Industry The textile industry, for which Lyon is famous, began with the introduction of a silk industry by Italians in the 15th century. In 1802 this was given added impetus by the invention of the Jacquard loom (by Joseph-Marie Jacquard). In recent times the city has specialized in the production of artificial-fibre fabrics. Lyons has been an important commercial and financial centre for centuries, and there are electrical and electronics, mechanical equipment, high technology, distilling, and foodstuff industries. Lyon is also an important year-round tourist centre.
Modern infrastructure The new town lies east of the Rhône. It has the fine suburb of Les Brotteaux, bounded on the north by the park of the Tête-d'Or, and industrial suburbs. The original university, which specializes in medicine, was founded in 1808. A second university was established in the eastern suburb of Bron-Parilly. The city has an interior funicular railway, is an important centre of railway
communications linking Paris with Switzerland, Italy, and the south of France, and is a busy river port. The conurbation includes Villeurbanne and Vénissieux.
Historic architecture The old town lies on the west bank of the Saône. The city's opera house and financial district, including the stock exchange (the oldest in France, founded 1506), are located here. Among the buildings of interest in the main part of the city are the fine 17th-century hôtel-de-ville, the Palais des Arts (1667–1879), and the churches of St Martin d'Ainay (11th century) and St Nizier (15th century). The Fourvière hill is crowned by the richly decorated basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière (1872–96); its site has been a place of pilgrimage since 1643. At the foot of the hill is the archiepiscopal cathedral of St Jean (12th–14th centuries) which, although badly damaged by the Huguenots in the 16th century, retains some notable examples of Gothic sculpture.
Roman theatre, Lyon
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