Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon

In Vieux Lyon, the old city, you find the Lyon's old cathedral. It is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. This Gothic church building was constructed between 1180 and 1400, on historic ground. In fact it marks a Christian centre going back to the earliest origins of the Christian church.

Lyon is one of the oldest Christian centres in western Europe, and there have been church buildings here for at least 1600 years, and traditions states that one of the buildings goes back to the 2nd century. Adjoing you find the house of the cathedral choir, the Manécanterie, a beautiful ancient Romanesque building.

Lyon cathedral is a monument of the Gothic era, from the hands of the stone masons that shaped the pointed arches of many great churches in Europe. Compared to the churches in Reims, Paris, or Strasbourg, Lyon cathedral is less ornate, more modest, and is not very impressive in size.

The work started during the reign of the powerful monarch Philip IInd August, and ended ended some 220 years later when Charles VI le Bienaimé, le Fol (The beloved, the fool) was king. It is very different from many other churches from this time, more solid, and not as ornate as e.g. Strasbourg Cathedral. The two towers of the facade flat, but the main towers do not have the impressive spires found on other churches, but have a square and rather flat roof.

Lyon was one centre of the Huguenot uprising and many buildings were ravished during this period and later the French revolution. It has survived a long and dramatic history and was the main church until the construction of the impressive new cathedral Notre Dame de Fourvière, that is clearly visible all over Lyon.

There are many historic event connected to the old cathedral. It was here Henri IVième met his wife to be Maria de Medici in 1600, and where they married immediately, as he found her pleasing enough for a royal spouse. .

The church has several attractions. You may visit the Bourbon Chapel, or you may study another interesting attraction - the ancient astronomical clock.


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