The Theatre and Odeon
An Exceptional Site in the Heart of Lugdunum
Facing the rising sun and dominating the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône, with a view extending to the Alps, this remarkable site was inaugurated shortly after the city's official foundation, in 43 BC.
The large theatre built around 15 BC was one of the oldest in Gaul.
Further along, the Odeon, a small theatre reserved for musical productions, was built around 100 BC.
These two entertainment complexes could hold nearly 13,000 spectators. For three centuries, this district would be the heart of city life. It was abandoned progressively from the 3rd century AD onward. Little by little, the monuments used as quarries disappeared from the landscape. Their vestiges would be restored during the first half of the 20th century.
In 177 AD, the Christian community of Lyon was subjected to persecution, which was related in a letter that Christians in Vienne and Lyon addressed to their fellow members in Asia. This letter relates that six martyrs perished in the Amphitheatre. Over the course of several centuries, the search for this memorable place was at the foreground of Lyonnais archaeological research. The two monuments built on the Fourvière slopes, only partially explored, were suspected by turns to be the searched-after Amphitheatre. Their complete excavation was undertaken in 1933 to answer the question definitively. The two edifices in semi-circular form were restored. As for the Amphitheatre itself, it was later found to have been constructed on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse hill.
The Odeon Pavement, Constructed with the Empire's Most Beautiful Marble
This geometric composition is made of the costliest colored stones in the Roman world: green porphyry from Greece, red porphyry from Egypt, yellow marble from Africa, and violet and red marble from Asia Minor. The presence of such materials is an indicator of the monument's prestige. They allow a glimpse at the luxury of this edifice before it was transformed into a quarry around 500 AD.