For the English-speaking, that means “European Heritage Days in Lyon.” More importantly, for me and the rest of Lyon’s inhabitants, that means that this weekend (Sept 18-19), we were able to go to all of Lyon’s major sites and museums for free. Heritage weekend occurs only once a year so it seems as much of the city went out explorin’.
Saturday, I decided to start with the Lyon’s basics – Hotel de Ville (City hall), l’Opera, Hotel-Dieu (a hospital in centre Lyon next to the Rhone), and two museums – Musee des Beaux Arts (fine arts) and Musee des Tissus (textiles and clothing). Lyon’s city hall is elaborate and exquisitely decorated, from the formal chambers to the meeting rooms for VIPs. I guess that’s where Lyon government moves and shakes. That seems like it would make sense. After that, I headed literally a few meters down the street and got a tour of the Lyon Opera. It is not the original opera house of the city but was rebuilt to be bigger and better in the original structure of the old opera house. I was a little turned off by the performance room because it was all black. I’m sure acoustically and lighting-wise it’s phenomenal, it’s just hard to tell in an all black room with dim lights. The museums I visited were quite nice with really interesting collections. It seems that one of the perks of being in Europe is that there’s so much history everywhere you look.
On Sunday, I decided to don my sunglasses and head out into the Vieux Lyon area to check out the ancient Roman amphitheater and odeum – a smaller theater – built in the area formerly known as Lugdunum. The city was founded in 43 BC by Lucius Munatius Plancus (thank you, Wikipedia). and was the capital of the one of the Roman provinces, Gallia Lugdunesis. It was also arguably the most important city in Western Europe until ~300 AD. WHO KNEW? Well, part of this great city has been excavated and because of this preservation of Roman architecture and history dating back over 2 millenia, Lyon has the distinction of being of one the UNESCO’s world heritage sites. The following pictures say why.
There’s a whole big area where the amphitheater and the odeum used to be! Of course, since this city was a Big Deal back in the day, it had one of the best spots on the hill that overlooks the city. I was also able to visit the Musee Gallo-Romain which was any archaeology-lover’s dream museum with all the finds from the Roman era. From sculptures to pillars to slabs with beautifully scripted text, this museum made me think that I was walking through history. Which, in a way, I was- it was heritage days, after all.