Self-Guided Religious Buildings Tour of Lyon, Part 2, Lyon (Self Guided)

Lyon's beautiful religious buildings showcase the richness of the city's culture and architecture. All the churches on this tour date back centuries and capture the architectural style popular at the time when they were built. Take this tour to discover the best-known and the most beautiful religious buildings in Lyon.
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Self-Guided Religious Buildings Tour of Lyon, Part 2 Map

Guide Name: Self-Guided Religious Buildings Tour of Lyon, Part 2
Guide Location: France » Lyon (See other walking tours in Lyon)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 km
Author: jenny
1
Basilique de Fourvière

1) Basilique de Fourvière (must see)

You would be forgiven if you think that the Basilique de Fourvière is the most important church in Lyon. Built on top of the hill of the same name, several hundred meters above the River Saône, it compels the eye from all over the city.

It stands on the site of a Roman forum of Trajan and an early Christian temple and was built in 1872 by Bossan. In an unusual departure from the Gothic style of the era, he designed the church in a mixture of Romanesque and Byzantine styles.

It was built in white stone with crenelled walls and four main towers. A gilded statue of the Virgin Mary stands on top of the bell tower. It is actually two churches, one on top of the other, funded privately by the nobles of the city.

The interior is quite simply breath-taking, with magnificent frescoes on the walls, elaborate mosaics on the upper arches and the ceiling, marble statues and beautiful stained glass windows. The crypt of Saint Joseph is as beautifully decorated as the rest of the church.

It’s only when you learn that the church was built and decorated to show off Catholic wealth after France’s humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, that you start thinking that everything is a bit over-the-top. But never mind, forget the past and enjoy the beauty of the present.

Between the church and the adjoining Chapel of the Virgin is a terrace that affords great views of the city, but if you want to see Lyon in all its splendor, there is an observatory on the top of the north-east tower and there are only 297 steps to climb to reach it!
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Cathedrale Saint Jean

2) Cathedrale Saint Jean (must see)

The Cathédrale Saint Jean is the archbishopric church of Lyon and therefore the main church in the city of Lyon.

It was built between 1165 and 1480 on the site of the ancient Sainte Croix and Etienne churches, whose vestiges can be seen in the nearby archaeological gardens.

Because of the time it took to build the cathedral, it has two distinct architectural styles: the eastern end containing the apse and the choir is in the Romanesque style while the nave and the facade are in the Gothic style. Above the main portal are several medallions representing the signs of the Zodiac, the Creation and the life of Saint Jean.

While the church might seem austere if you have visited the Basilique de Fourvière, in the choir you will see lovely 13th century stained glass windows and on the left and right of the main altar are two crosses that date back to 1274. You can admire several paintings, including the “Adoration des Mages” by Houyez, “La Circoncision” by Vignon and “Le Christ et la cananéenne” by de Plattemontagne.

The most compelling item in the cathedral is the magnificent astronomical clock in the north transept. Built in the 14th century, it is a marvel of technology for the era and it still works today. When it chimes on the hours of 12, 2, 3 and 4, a cock crows and the angels make a triumphant sound – reminding us of St Peter denying Christ before dawn and His subsequent entrance into heaven.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
The Grand Temple de Lyon

3) The Grand Temple de Lyon

Do take a little time to visit the Grand Temple of Lyon, which was classified a Historic Site in 2011.

The temple is a Protestant church and was built in 1879 by Gaspard André. The facade was renovated in 1885 with patterns representing arcs. The furniture was installed at the same time. The pipe organ was built in 1884 by Merklin and was renovated in 1923 after it was partially destroyed by fire.

There are seats for 900 worshipers in the main hall. The building also houses a large Protestant library which has been kept in its original 19th century style. Called the Bibliothèque Populaire, it was initially aimed at lending books to the working classes, who couldn’t afford to buy them.

The original library was created in 1830 in the Temple du Change and it was moved to its present home in 1859.

It boasts of over 4500 books on subjects such as Protestant History, Philosophy and Theology. There are also books for children, novels for adults and travel guides. Today the library is only open to the public on Heritage Day.

For over 12 years, the church has been hosting concerts and exhibitions of religious paintings and sculptures.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Saint Polycarpe

4) Saint Polycarpe

The church of Saint Polycarpe stands on La Croix-Rousse Hill and is a lovely church that is well worth visiting.

It was built in 1670 by the Oratorians, although the facade with its four Corinthian pilasters supporting a triangular pediment was the work of Loyer in 1751. At the same time, the nave was enlarged.

The facade was badly damaged during the Revolution when the quarter was subjected to heavy canon fire. Between 1826 and 1836 the building was repaired and enlarged; the transept, the cupola and the choir were built by Farfoullin.

In the 19th century a large decoration project was undertaken, with some of the best artists in Lyon, putting their hearts into their work to produce the fine statues and furnishings that you can see today.

The organ was installed in 1842; built by Zeiger; its walnut casing was made by Bossan. The altar and the altarpiece of the Virgin were designed in 1852 by Bossan and Desjardin and sculpted by Fabisch, who also created the main altar in 1855 and the altar and altarpiece of the Sacré Coeur in 1860.

The marble pulpit is decorated with sculptures created by Dufraine in 1864, and the abat-voix (the canopy over the pulpit) was designed by Bossan.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Notre-Dame de Saint-Vincent

5) Notre-Dame de Saint-Vincent

Like so many churches in Lyon, Notre Dame de Saint Vincent was once part of a monastery. Its interior reflects the simple tastes of the monks who once prayed here.

The church was built for the Augustinian monks who settled in the area in 1319. It was mostly rebuilt between 1759 and 1789 to replace their ancient chapel, which was falling into ruin. They named the church St Louis in honor of the crown prince who donated funds to the building.

During the Revolution it was first used as a warehouse and then as a hospital annex. The army took over the rest of the monastery, which in 1831 became La Martinière College.

The church was renamed in 1863, and in 1862 the nave was enlarged and the facade was built by Franchet. In 1987 the church was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in a 19th century style. It reopened to the local congregation in 1992.

Although the interior is rather plain, there are some lovely statues to admire, including one of St Louis and another of the Virgin by Fabisch, a statue of St Vincent by an unknown sculptor, and “The Baptême of Christ” by Dufraine.

The paintings in the choir were installed in 1996. They include “Lumière d’Emmaüs” and “L’Annonciation” by Hamelin. You will see another of his works, “Le Créateur”, on the apse’s quarter-circle vault.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Eglise Catholique Saint Paul

6) Eglise Catholique Saint Paul

The Eglise Catholique de Saint Paul is one of the oldest churches in Lyon and one of the best preserved.

The first church, which was part of a monastery, was built around 549 and destroyed in 732. A new church was built over the remains of its predecessor in the 9th century, but the church you will see today is the result of different stages of reconstruction dating from the 11th to the 19th centuries.

In the 10th century the church became part of a necropolis with three cemeteries. The bell tower was added in 1440. The exterior of the Gothic side chapels feature decorations of leaves and animals under the cornice with animal grotesques over them. The dome has two floors of blind arches set at irregular intervals.

The lantern on top of the bell tower was added in 1835 and the eleven bells in the tower were installed in 1899. The spire was once wooden, but this was replaced by a stone one in 1982.

During the Revolution, the church was used to stock saltpetre and when it became a parish church, in 1801, the paving had to be replaced. The decorations over the St Lawrence entrance are eggs and Acanthus leaves. The nave has four bays separated by four pillars, whose sculpted capitals depict leaves and human heads. The quarter-circle vault in the apse has early 20th century frescoes by Borel.

The side chapels date back to the 15th century and in one of them you can admire “L’Adoration des Bergers”, painted by Blanchet in 1688.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Saint Bruno des Chartreux

7) Saint Bruno des Chartreux

Saint Bruno des Chartreux Church is a bright, airy building and the only remaining Baroque church in Lyon.

It was built for the Carthusian monks, founded by Royal Decree. It was constructed in two stages over a period of 250 years.

The first phase took between 1590 and 1690, during which time the choir, the sacristy and the monks cells were built. In the second phase in the 18th century, the transept, the nave and the side chapels were built. The chapels and the facade were renovated in the 19th century.

The statues in Munet’s arch between the choir and the crossing were sculpted by Sarasin in 1628. They represent Saint Bruno and John the Baptist. The choir has five windows and stalls in the Rococo style. The organ is one of the best double keyboard instruments in Lyon.

The pulpit is a bronze eagle with spreading wings to represent the Word of God. It stands on a column decorated with carved vines and grapes with a dove at the bottom of the column.

Servandoni built the altar with its magnificent ciborium of marble columns, wooden capitals and a globe and cross of copper covered with gold leaf.

The dome over the crossing has eight oval windows and four medallions representing the four Evangelists. The nave has an arched vault with a frieze alternating between a rose and a dove. On each side of the nave, four arches lead to the eight side chapels.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Lyon, France

Create Your Own Walk in Lyon

Create Your Own Walk in Lyon

Creating your own self-guided walk in Lyon is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Self-Guided Museums Tour of Lyon

Self-Guided Museums Tour of Lyon

Lyon is very beautiful city, the second-largest in France after Paris. It has many interesting, historic places to visit. Lyon has a number of museums set to educate the public on the history of France and Lyon. Many of the museums preserve and display works by French artists, as they represent the rich cultural heritage of the country. Take this tour to discover the beauty and historic importance...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km
Self-Guided Galleries Tour of Lyon

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Lyon is home to some truly impressive art galleries that contain fabulous collections of paintings, sculptures and modern art. Young and talented artists from France and around the world present their art here. Take this tour to discover the most impressive and unique galleries in Lyon.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
Self-Guided Kid's Entertainment Tour of Lyon

Self-Guided Kid's Entertainment Tour of Lyon

Lyon is an interesting destination not only for adults, but for kids as well. Parents that decide to take their children to Lyon will not regret it. There are a number of family-oriented places to visit, including beautiful gardens, fascinating museums, sports clubs and more. Take this tour to discover the most interesting places to visit with your kids in Lyon.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
Self-Guided Religious Buildings Tour of Lyon, Part 1

Self-Guided Religious Buildings Tour of Lyon, Part 1

Up until the 19th century, 98% of Lyon residents were Catholics. Because religion had such a profound influence on Lyon locals, many beautiful and unique places of worship can be found in the city to this day. Take this tour to discover some of Lyon's most fascinating and historic religious buildings.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Self-Guided Nightlife Tour of Lyon

Self-Guided Nightlife Tour of Lyon

Lyon is considered the youngest city in France, which is evident when you venture out into the city at night. Lyon has great bars, pubs, and night clubs that cater to both the young and old. Live music, endless varieties of drinks, outdoor terraces, and busy dance floors can all be found in Lyon. Take this tour to discover the best nightlife spots the city has to offer.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
City Orientation Walk

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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Lyon for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Lyon has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Lyon, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.