Lyon Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Lyon Cathedral

Lyon, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France

Lyon Cathedral was constructed between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries and has a famous astronomical clock.

Peta Stamper

13 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Lyon Cathedral

Lyon Cathedral, also known as St Jean Cathedral or Cathédrale St-Jean, in France is Lyon’s main Roman Catholic church and the seat of the city’s archbishop. A mostly Gothic but partially Romanesque structure, one of the most striking features of Lyon Cathedral is its 14th century astronomical clock, which indicates feast days.

Lyon Cathedral history

Lyon Cathedral was founded by the first two bishops of Lyon: Saint Pothius and Saint Iraneas. Since the 11th century, the Archbishop of Gaul has also been known as the Primate of All the Gauls, a status granted by the Pope at that time and endowing this office with authority over all of France’s archbishops.

Construction of the Gothic Lyon Cathedral as we know it today began in the early 12th century on the ruins of a 6th century church and was only completed in the late 15th century, sometime around the 1470’s. Until the Basilica Notre-Dam was built in the 19th century, the cathedral was the principal church in the city.

Lyon Cathedral today

Highlights to your visit of Lyon Cathedral are the two crosses either side of the altar, preserved since the Second Council of Lyon of 1274 as a symbol of the union of the churches, and the Bourbon chapel, built by the Cardinal Charles II Duke of Bourbon – a masterpiece of 15th century sculpture.

Next to Lyon Cathedral is a reminder that it is one in a long line of churches built in Lyon since Roman times. In fact, it was built on the ruins of three other churches, the remains of which now stand behind it.

Getting to Lyon Cathedral

Located in the heart of the old town (Vieux Lyon), Lyon Cathedral backs up to the Saône river, with a large plaza in front of it. With the Vieux Lyon metro stop nearby, there is easy access to and from the city centre from Lyon Cathedral. There is also parking across the road at Parc St-Jean, just off the D406, for those driving.

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