Lyon Cathedral: A Blend of Gothic and Romanesque Majesty

Lyon Cathedral's Unique Location & Access Tips

The Archbishop of Lyon resides in the beautiful Lyon Cathedral, also known as the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste. It was constructed on the foundations of a church that had stood there since the sixth century. It was built between 1180 and 1476.

Because of its spectacular architecture, interior Romanesque design, and the yearly Festival of Lights celebrated here in December, it is now a great draw for Catholics and secular visitors alike. It is right in the middle of Vieux Lyon, the historic district of Lyon.

Some things to know about the Lyon Cathedral

Gothic style may be seen in the building’s nave and exterior, while Romanesque style can be seen in the apse and choir located inside. The two ancient crosses surrounding the altar were erected at the 1274 Second Council of Lyon. The sculpture in the Bourbon Chapel dates back to the 15th century and is regarded as a masterpiece.

Some things to know about the Lyon Cathedral
Some things to know about the Lyon Cathedral

The cathedral also houses the historic 14th-century Lyon Astronomical Clock. It’s 9 meters tall and has an astronomical compass that points to the sun, moon, earth, and stars. There are also mechanical representations of angels, a timer, a dove, and the Virgin Mary.

Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste is not just a popular tourist destination in Lyon but also a working Catholic church and the official residence of the archbishop of the city. Because of its spiritual significance, visitors are urged to remain quiet and polite and to stay away during worship services. Tours are available in a number of tongues, English being one of them.

You may have beverages and food in the Café de la Cathédrale, which is very close to the cathedral. The nearby archaeological garden features artifacts from the 4th to the 6th centuries. Weekends and afternoons are the busiest times in this neighborhood, so plan accordingly.

History of Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon – the Lyon Cathedral

Saint Pothius and Saint Iraneas, the city’s first two bishops, built Lyon Cathedral. Since the 11th century, when the Pope awarded this title and gave the Archbishop of Gaul jurisdiction over all the archbishops in France, he has also been known as the Primate of All the Gauls.

History of de Lyon
History of de Lyon

Beginning in the early 12th century on the ruins of a church from the 6th century, construction on the current Lyon Cathedral did not end until the late 15th century, during the 1470s. The cathedral served as the city’s primary place of worship until the construction of Basilica Notre-Dam in the nineteenth century.

Both the Bourbon chapel, erected by Cardinal Charles II Duke of Bourbon and a masterwork of 15th-century art, and the two crosses on either side of the altar have been kept since the Second Council of Lyon in 1274 as a sign of the union of the churches.

There is a reminder just next to Lyon Cathedral that it is just one of several churches that have stood in Lyon since Roman times. In reality, three additional churches’ foundations can still be seen behind it, indicating that it was constructed on their sites.

How to get to the Lyon Cathedral?

The huge plaza in front of Lyon Cathedral overlooks the Saône River, and the cathedral itself is located in the center of the ancient town (Vieux Lyon). Getting to and from Lyon Cathedral is a breeze because of the proximity of the Vieux Lyon metro stop to the cathedral. For those driving, there is parking directly across the street in Parc St-Jean, easily accessible by the D406.

Lyon Cathedral
Lyon Cathedral


The Lyon Cathedral, or Cathédrale St-Jean as it is called in France, is the city’s primary Roman Catholic church and the seat of the archbishop of Lyon. The astronomical clock that was installed at Lyon Cathedral, a partially Romanesque but primarily Gothic building in the 14th century, is one of the building’s most distinctive characteristics.

You can’t travel to Lyon and miss visiting this spectacular landmark of the city.

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