Founded by the Romans in the first century BC, Lyon has played an important role in the religious and political development of Europe over many centuries. Initially known as Lugdunum, the town’s archbishop was named Primate of the Gauls and several popes were crowned here. Trade in spices and silk boomed in Lyon in the Middle Ages. The city developed a reputation for its cuisine and was ultimately considered the gastronomic capital of France. Meanwhile, its unique architecture, with narrow streets known as traboules, has led to its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Lyon, France’s third-largest city, hosts the famous Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) every year. It was also the home of cinema pioneers Auguste and Louis Lumière, who patented their cinematograph in 1895 and are considered the world’s first film-makers. The Lumière brothers captured images of their beautiful home city which lies at the confluence of the Rhone and Saone Rivers. Among Lyon’s impressive buildings is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière that now attracts one and a half million visitors yearly.
The capital of the Gauls during the Roman Empire, Lyon became a city of fairs in the Middle Ages and then a leading financial centre from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century. Lyon’s exceptional architectural heritage dates back some 2,000 years and the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In more recent times, it has allowed architects to express themselves freely in their designs for a busy city. As a result, the new district of La Confluence has embraced the architectural avant-garde. Lyon has combined the benefits of a dynamic, innovative city with the warmth and creativity of an urban setting that functions on a human scale. There are many green spaces, even in the heart of the town, such as the Parc de la Tête d’Or.
The city also has a whole host of cultural events and festivals including the Biennale de la Danse (biennial dance festival), Biennale d’Art Contemporain (biennial contemporary arts festival), les Nuits Sonores (electronic music festival), the Lumière Cinema Festival, Quais du Polar (noir fiction festival) and the Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights). Additionally, Lyon is home to an internationally acclaimed opera and a fine selection of museums.
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