The Roman ruins in Lyon France are just some of the indicators of this city's amazing history, and a testament to the fact that this is a city that has been around in one form or another for millennia. The Lyon Amphitheater, often referenced as the Amphitheatre des Trois Gaules (or Amphitheater of the Three Gauls), is among the oldest ruins to be unearthed in France. It is so named because of the association with the Roman Empire and the social and political construct they put into place in Lyon (then called Lugdunum) after the Gallic wars of Julius Caesar. The Grand Theater on the same archaeological site is the oldest of all the theaters in France. The Roman ruins in Lyon are located on Fourviere Hill, a popular site for tourists and residents alike, as it is home to an array of historical and cultural attractions.
The Lyon Amphitheater and the other ruins began to be discovered when the mayor of the city, Edouard Herriot, commissioned a project at the Fourviere Hill site. It ended up being an extensive, 46-year archaeological project that ultimately unearthed everything from the remains of public squares and streets to homes and stores. The two undeniable gems of the archaeological expedition were the Amphitheater des Trois Gaules and the Odeon Theater. When the Amphitheater de Trois Gaules was discovered, some indicators pointed to the fact that it may have at one time been a full theater. Both of these Roman ruins in Lyon show the presence and power of the Roman Empire and the young capital of Gaul, Lugdunum, which would ultimately become Lyon.
The Emperor Augustus constructed the Grand Theater, commonly just called the Lyon Amphitheatre, around the year 15 BC. The original design of this amazing work of architecture comprised two tiers that could seat approximately 4,500 people. Later innovation including an upper, covered walkway would bring the capacity to 10,000 before long. The Lyon Amphitheater is the largest such theater found anywhere in what was considered Gaul to this very day. This comprises a broad swath of land including areas of the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.
The Odeon Theater is another of the most notable Roman ruins in Lyon. It was built in the middle of the second century. Odeons are smaller theaters that are many times covered by a roof and used poetry and music and other such mediums. The only other Odeon in the entirety of Gaul is the Vienne Roman Theater located in Vienne, on the left bank of the Rhone River about twenty miles south of Lyon. This theater is another amazing work of ancient architecture. It is well worth a morning or afternoon trip to Vienne to witness the amazing, 6,000-seat amphitheater, the dynamic art, and many other ruins surrounding the theater.
If you are already planning to visit the Roman ruins on Fourviere Hill, you should strongly consider a visit to the Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization, situated to the north of the ruins. It is a modest fee to enter the museum to witness the history of great Lugdunum. You can expect to see statues, inscriptions, art, textiles, and much more.