Lyon, ARA, France
Est. 2.5km / 2 hrs 30 mins / Map


A walk in the historical site of Lyon is a walk in time. From its foundation in 43 BC up until today, the city has maintained a permanent and continuous link with the periods that have marked its history.The urban development of Lyon is surprising and unique. At the Gallo-Roman period its centre was mainly on the hill of Fourvière. This naturally slid slowly towards the Saône river and moved out further towards the east. The medieval city grew up at the bottom of the slopes, squeezed between the hill and the river. The Old-Lyon neighbourhoods, built on a narrow strip of land, hung onto the slopes. The streets, stairways and passages ran down to the Saône.At the Renaissance, when the city was at its height, its three main quarters took on their characteristics:- Saint-Paul in the north: home to the bourgeoisie, trade and financial centre- Saint-Jean in the middle: home to the high clergy and the aristocracy- Saint-Georges in the south: home to the craftsmen.The area continued to evolve throughout the XVII and XVIII centuries; the centre of gravity of Lyon changed and the town experienced new growth. The city began to develop on the other side of the Saône and Old Lyon fell into abandon and neglect; it narrowly missed total demolition and major roadworks. Then, in 1964, thanks to the Malraux law, Old Lyon became the first protected sector in France. The old stone and ancient restored houses took on a new lease of life.Known the world over for its Renaissance architecture, Old Lyon owes its fabulous conservation to the « Plan de Sauvegarde » and the Malraux law which has protected the sector since 1964. The bourgeois architecture was very influenced by Italy and the capital. The quarter really became inhabited during the Carolingian period (towards 800) under the influence of Charlemagne, then in the Middles Ages. This period left its heritage of large churches and landmarks (Saint-Georges, Saint-Paul and Saint-Jean), the Manécanterie, but also, and mainly, the street tracks. It was during this period that the quarter was laid out and the wide roadways, parallel with the Saône, were traced. The roads we walk today are the same as those of the Middle Ages...At the end of the medieval period and then the Renaissance the quarter was at its peak. It was also at this time that the land was divided into lots – narrow bands of ground ("piano keys”)-along the main throughways such as the rue Tramassac, the rue Saint-Jean and the rue Saint-Georges.

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