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Lyon, France

Ancient Roman Theaters of Lyon

Lyon, France is home to two remarkably preserved Roman theaters, one dating back to 15 BCE. 

Most European cities would be proud to have a Roman theatre. The city of Lyon, France claims two.

Situated in the Fourvière area of Lyon, both theaters are in a remarkable state of preservation and are well worth incorporating into a visit to this great city. The larger and older of the two dates from about 15 BCE. This impressive structure is just south of the prominent Notre Dame basilica and has the usual steeply tiered seating, a decorated floor and the foundations of an extensive stage. It is still used for performances.

The smaller theatre, called the Odeon (or sometimes Odeum), was used for poetry and musical recitals. It was highly decorated and you can still see the inlaid marble on the floor. It is thought that it was built at the same time as an extension to the main theatre during the reign of the emperor Hadrian in the second century AD. It is very close to the large theater, slightly nearer the top of the hill.

Know Before You Go

Best way to get there is via the historic funicular railway from St Just. The public transport system in Lyon is second too none. If you arrive by air get the bus from airport, do not bother with car rental as finding your way round Lyon by car is horrendous, even with GPS.

Just purchase a one day unlimited travel ticket (which also includes the funiculars) but do not forget to validate it on the metro or tram to avoid risking a fine.