The Roman Theaters of Lyon – Historic Culture in Contemporary ArchitectureRoman Temples | March 30, 2010
Imagine the lively poets alluring your hearts, gladiators struggling for life, and musicians captivating your mind within an open-air theatre. Yes! All this form an integral part of the Lyon’s Roman Theater. It is a theater-cum-odeum-cum-temple complex located in a park towards the south of the Notre Dame de Fourviere Basilica. This means that not only it was a cultural centre, but was also important from the religious point of view. This magnificent masterpiece of art and culture in Lyon is the most ancient edifice in France that was constructed by Augustus from 17 to 15 B.C.
What attracts visitors at the Roman Theaters of Lyon is not only its antiquity, but also the amalgam of prosperous history and culture with modern structural design and culture. Among the structures, what is unique for the Roman antiquity here is the ruined semicircular theatres namely, Grand Theater and the Odeon. Today, live concerts are held at these two theaters at the summertime Fourvière Nights festival.
What I Visited
The Grand Theater
Misunderstood to be an amphitheatre, this is a full theatre wherein gladiators’ contests were held. Dedicated to Augustus in 15 B.C., it is the most ancient theater in Gaul that includes the current France, Belgium, western Switzerland, and parts of the Netherlands and Germany. I was delighted to be in most ancient theatre after knowing this fact. It is a fun to be at such a legendary place.
Originally, it had only two tiers of seats accommodating 9000 audience, but later an upper and a lower covered walkway were transformed to add two more tiers that increased to 10000 people.
This is among the only two Odeons in the Gaul area, but the largest one that is in competition with the Odeon in Athens. The other one is in Vienne at 30 km from Lyon towards south. Nevertheless, this Odeon is comparatively smaller to the two other theatres at the Roman Theaters. In the past, Odeon was where the poets and musicians showed their talents that was compared and awarded by the people. This tradition is still in its roots kept alive in form of musical and dramatic shows not only here, but also at the modern theaters and concert halls.
The Odeon of Lugdunum is made up of two stories out of which the first one has a domed gallery adorned using a mosaic. There was also a pavement standing due to powerful columns. It seems as the huge semicircular wall was once holding a wooden roof, which was a tradition followed in building the Odeon during the era of Greece and Rome Empires.
The Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization
Do not miss to visit this monumental exemplary piece located towards the north of the Roman Theaters of Lyon. Not only its exterior look is outstanding, but what is holds is also worth a visit even if you are do not like exploring museums. Herein, you come across a noteworthy collection of archaeological excavations at the Fourvière site that emphasis on the personal and public lifestyle in Lyon right from its origin in 43 B.C.
The most brilliant exhibition in the museum is that of the Five Centuries of Discovery named so due to the relics, inscriptions, statues, currencies, and porcelains assembled by the experts of Lyon in the 16th century. Further, there are more exhibitions – the Largest City of Gaul, Men and God, Games, an Economic Metropolis, and Artists and Artisans.
For deserving more tourists’ visit, the museum organizes workshops that charge 1.5 € for child and 3 € for adult along with shows for the little ones. On these specific days, for viewing the collections, a specific time is decided upon.
The museum is open on all days, except Mondays, 25th December, and the first of Jan, May, and Nov. The full fee is 3.8 €.