Lyon’s Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilisation chronicles five centuries of the city’s history as part of the Roman Empire when it was known under its Latin name of Lugdunum. Dug into Fourvière hill in the 5th arrondissement of the city, the Museum is somewhat akin to a submarine, its goal being to transport visitors through the undergrowth and vestiges of Lyon’s ancient civilisation.
Previously on display at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon and the Antiquarium, the municipal Gallo-Roman collection of artifacts uncovered at Lugdunum was transferred to a new building that was designed by architect Bernard Zehrfuss and opened in 1975. The location was chosen as it is just beside the city’s Roman theatre and odeon, on Fourvière hill, recognised as being the heart of the Roman city. The internal design of the building is that of a concrete spiral ramp which descends and branches out into the display rooms.
In addition to its own permanent collections of Roman, Celtic and pre-Roman material, the museum includes a plan-relief of the ancient city of Lugdunum together with scale models of its major monuments such as the theatre and the Odeon.
Temporary exhibitions are hosted regularly.
- Circus Mosaic : Discovered in the second arrondissement’s Ainay district in 1806, the mosaic shows a circus during a chariot race.
- the Gallic Coligny calendar
- Fragments from the decoration of the Altar of Rome and Emperor Augustus
- The Lyon Tablet, a speech by the Emperor Claudius
- Mosaics including La mosaïque de Bacchus and the Mosaïque aux Svastikas
- The Taurobolic Altar, from the year 160
- Numerous Dionysiac sarcophagi, including the Sarcophagus of the Triumph of Bacchus
- The Lyon-Vaise Hoard of dishes, jewellery and silver statuettes buried during the 3rd-century Germanic invasion
If planning a day’s sightseeing, any tourist should bear in mind that in the immediate vicinity of the museum a number Lyonnais ‘musts’ are found, for example the Roman Amphitheatre and Odeon which still serves as a magnificent concert venue for 10,000 spectators during the annual Nuits de Fourvière festival. 250m away is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and the Parc des Hauteurs. On Rue des Farges, Roman Baths discovered in the 1970s and believed to date from the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC can be viewed. Only the foundations remain today, but it’s worth a quick visit.
Address: 17 Rue Cleberg, 69005 Lyon
Transport: The entrance to the museum is approximately 270m from the Fourvière Funicular station (line F2) via Rue Roger Radisson.
Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Friday 11:00am – 6:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am – 6:00pm. Closed on January 1st, May 1st and December 25th.
Full price €7
Reduced price €4.50
Free entry for children under 18 years, Job-seekers, disabled people and accompanying persons.
Free on 1st Sunday. of the month and with the Lyon City Card.