Lyon Roman Baths - History and Facts | History Hit

Lyon Roman Baths

Lyon, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France

The Lyon Roman Baths are the remains of a second or third century public baths complex.

Peta Stamper

06 Apr 2021
Image Credit: CC / Alorange

About Lyon Roman Baths

The Lyon Roman Baths are an ancient bath complex that served ancient Colonia Copia Claudia Augusta Lugdunum, as the city was known during the Roman period when it was an important regional capital of the Roman Empire.

Lyon Roman Baths history

Built upon the Roman city of Lugdunum’s Fourvière Hill, Lyon’s Roman Baths date back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The Gallo-Roman city of Lugdunum was founded in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus, Roman senator and consul the following year, in the time of Rome’s Republic. Lugdunum served as the capital of the Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis, remaining an important Roman centre for centuries, and was the birthplace of the Roman emperors Claudius and Caracella.

By 192 AD, the city’s population had swelled to between 50,000 – 200,000 and the city’s infrastructure reflected as much. Lugdunum had four aqueducts bringing water to the fountains, wealthy homes and public baths. The Roman bathing process was a daily activity enjoyed by people of most social classes. Bathing also required multiple rooms, including a changing room, warm and hot rooms all with pools, a sudatorium or sauna, and a cold room with a swimming pool.

Only found in the 1970’s, Lyon’s Roman Baths were recovered and then partially restored.

Lyon Roman Baths today

Modern life has built up around the Lyon Roman Baths, hiding them from passers by as the site is now surrounded by blocks of housing. The baths are free to visit, so be sure not to pass up an opportunity to time-travel back to the ancient Roman city of Lugdunum and know that thousands of Romans walked the spot thousands of years ago.

Only the south end of the Roman building is visible, the main section buried beneath the Jean Moulin middle school. What you see is the rounded apse of the two warmer rooms and part of the palaestra (courtyard), where people would have exercised before bathing.

Getting to Lyon Roman Baths

On foot, head for 6-10 Rue des Farges near the Place de Minimes, passing underneath the arcades of the modern housing. The closest public transport stop is the Minimes Théâtres Romains, the up-hill train line F1 – a 4 minute walk from the baths. The nearest bus stops are Le Bastion and Jaricot on route 90, both around 15 minutes walk away.

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