Basilique Notre-Dame de Fouviere - History and Facts | History Hit

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fouviere

Lyon, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fouviere is an iconic nineteenth century basilica in Lyon.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Denis Jarvis CC

About Basilique Notre-Dame de Fouviere

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fouviere in Lyon is a flamboyant 19th century church designed to look like a Byzantine creation. Built from 1872 to 1896, Basilique Notre-Dame de Fouviere is now considered to be one of the city’s most iconic buildings.

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fouviere history

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière was built between 1872 and 1884 to thank the Virgin Mary for having spared the city from invasion during the Franco-Prussian war. It has become one of the major symbols of Lyon, partially due to its prominent location on a hill overlooking the city. It is an example of the influence of Christianity on the city over the centuries.

The architecture of the Basilica Notre-Dame of Fourvière is unique and imposing with byzantine, gothic and romanesque inspiration. It has 4 towers, each 48 meters high, which represent the cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, strength and justice.

The materials used for the building and the decoration include white marble from Carrara, pink granite from the North of Italy, blue marble from Savoy, green onyx, silver and gold pieces, and ebony and ivory.

The sanctuary Notre-Dame de Fourviere is “the Marian soul of Lyon”. For centuries, it has attracted more than tens of thousands of pilgrims from all around the world. Countless Christians, both inside and outside of France, have recognized the sanctuary as a sacred place of veneration for the Virgin Mary. Rather quickly, in the early churches, Mary’s position became significant.

Architect Pierre Bossan pieced together the designs for the basilica as an ode to the glory of Mary. His sources of mystical inspiration are the Apocalypse of St. John and the writings of a Spanish nun, Mary of Agreda.

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fouviere today

Today the basilica is considered an emblem of the city of Lyon and welcomes over 2.5 million pilgrims and visitors each year. There are beautiful panoramic views of the city from the site. There are exhibitions displayed seasonally in addition to the extensive permanent collections of artefacts, including precious sacred art. The building is listed as a historical monument, registered to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Getting to Basilique Notre-Dame de Fouviere

It is easily accessible by public transport, visitors can take the Fourvière funicular to Vieux Lyon Saint Jean station. To drive from Paris, go through the tunnel of Fourvière, take the first exit on the right immediately after the tunnel direction “Vieux Lyon”, turn left on the “Monté de Choulans” and turn right at the first traffic light.

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