Lyon was an important Roman settlement and the provincial capital of Roman Gaul. You can still see evidence of its ancient past in the Fourvière district of the city, where not one, but two, well-preserved Roman theaters stand. See below to find out more about these ancient performance venues.
Ancient Theater of Fourvière
The larger and older of Lyon’s two ancient theaters, this semicircular theater dates back to about 15 BC. In centuries past, the venue was probably used to stage gladiatorial battles in front of audiences of up to 10,000 people. Now, it mostly functions as a historic attraction, though it’s occasionally put to use: Every year in June and July, during the annual Nuits de Fourvière festival, the theater hosts a range of music, theater, dance, circus, and opera events.
The smaller of the pair, the Odeon theater dates back to around AD 161. In its heyday, it hosted poetry readings and music recitals, and most likely would have been covered by a roof, though no remnants of that remain. This type of theater was common during ancient Greek and Roman times, and is one of only two such theaters in the Gaul region to have survived. The other Odeon theater is in Vienne, south of Lyon.