Lyons (Fr. Lyon; anc. Lugdunum), the second city of France, stands at the confluence of the Rhone and the Saone, by rail 315 miles SSE. of Paris and 218 N. by W. of Marseilles. The commercial and fashionable quarters of the city lie on the long narrow tongue of land between the rivers, and are connected with the suburbs beyond by more than twenty bridges. This central part of Lyons contains many narrow streets, with tall gloomy houses; but much has been done to lighten it since 1852 by the making of long straight, wide streets, and the opening up of squares. In this district stand the museum (1667), with valuable Roman antiquities, a library of 120,000 vols, and 1500 MSS., and art collections ; the church of St Martin d'Ainay, dating from the 10th century ; St Nizier Church, at first the cathedral, a fine 15th-century Flamboyant building; the graceful town-house (1646); the museum of arts and industry; the academy, with five faculties; the hospital, founded in the 6th century, though the present building dates only from 1773; and the arsenal. To the north lies the suburb of La Croix Rousse, where the silk-weavers dwell. Across the Saone, and on its right bank, is the steep, high suburb of Fourvieres, the Forum Vetus of Trajan, whose summit (410 feet) is now crowned by the church of Notre Dame (the new church dates from 1872-80). Here is the miracle-working image of our Lady of Fourvieres that is believed to have preserved the city from the cholera in 1832, 1835, and 1850. From its tower, which is surmounted by a gilded statue of the Virgin, 18 feet high, a view can be had of the distant Alps. On this elevated site too stands the church of St IrenAeus, in the crypt of which are preserved what purport to be the bones of 19,000 Christian martyrs who perished in the persecution by Severus. At the foot of the hill next the Saone is the archi-episcopal cathedral of St John, of the 13th and 14th centuries, with magnificent stained-glass windows and a celebrated clock of 1598; the palace of the archbishop, who ranks as primate of France; and the law-courts. On the left bank of the Rhone, which is so low that it has to be protected with embankments, is the handsome new suburb of Les Brotteaux, terminated on the north by the park of the Tete-d'Or, in which are an oriental museum, a zoological collection, and a fine botanical garden. Lyons possesses also a Roman Catholic University with three faculties, a first-class veterinary school, a school of art with 1200 pupils, of great value for the silk manufactures, a school of the industrial arts, a municipal library of 66,000 vols., and a silk-conditioning house. The city is a fortress of the first rank, being defended by a double ring of forts. Pop. (1872) 301,868 ; (1901) 441,799, or, of the commune, 459,099. The staple industry is the silk; it is computed that there are in all, within the city and its environs, from 75,000 to 85,000 hand-looms and 20,000 power-looms employed in this manufacture. Silk-dyeing and printing give employment to nearly 4000 workmen; 25,000 more are engaged in the various chemical industries (dyes, starch, candles, soap), machinery-making establishments, foundries, brass-works, fancy-wares, gold and silver goods, hats, paper, mathematical instruments, etc. The position of Lyons makes it a great emporium of trade between central and southern Europe. Besides importing silk raw and exporting it manufactured, chiefly to Great Britain and the United States, cotton is imported from America and Egypt, and a large business done in cloth and linen, chestnuts, coal, charcoal, cheese, and wine and spirits. The list of notable persons born in Lyons includes Germanicus and the Roman emperors Claudius, Marcus Aurelius, and Caracalla, Jules Favre, Roland, Say, Suchet, the De Jussieus, Ampere, Mme. Recamier, Bonnet, Delorme, Meissonier, and Jacquard.
The Romans settled a colony here in 43 B.C. and made it the starting-point for their network of highways through Gaul. The introduction of the silk industry must be set down to Francis I.'s credit. The Reformation, entering from Geneva, had a short but violent reign ; the emigration of the Huguenots struck a blow at the industrial prosperity of the town from which it took long to recover. In 1789 the city embraced the cause of the Revolution, though royalist feeling was also strong here. In 1792 it refused obedience to the National Convention; in revenge it was besieged, captured, its buildings destroyed, its name changed (till 1794) to Ville-Aftranchie, and 6000 of its citizens slain. Trade riots in 1831, 1834, and 1849 assumed very formidable dimensions; and since the war of 1870 Lyons has been a focus of red republicanism.