Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere

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8 Place de Fourviere, Lyon, France
04 78 25 13 01

Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere Lyon Reviews

anupa_rk anupa_rk
40 reviews
Beautiful church atop a hill with beautiful views May 21, 2016
Walking around the main roads of Lyon, one cannot help but notice the gleaming white Basilica of Notre Dame of Fourviere perched high up on a hill.. peeping out, offering a glimpse worthy of further exploration.

There are three ways to get up to the Basilica. If you're driving, or you're too enchanted by the view of the church to bother figuring out the best way to get to it, then you can take the long winding way up from old town, just behind the Church of Saint Jean.

If you are smarter and have read about the many paths to walk up to the Church, you will probably take the long flight of stairs that begin a few feet off of the main road, in an alley of old town (rue du Bœuf).

If you don't like walking up hills and don't have a car you can take the funicular right up to the church.

No prize for guessing which way I went up! I know about the steps now because I couldn't believe that the main road was the only way up, and asked the girls at the information center at the church. They giggled and pointed me to the steps to go down. The steps go through the surrounding gardens and are actually quite a pleasant walk.

Walking up the long way did bring me up on the ruins of an ancient Roman theater. Not much of it remains today, but it has the classic Roman theater look to it.

The church itself is magnificent. I first walked all around the outside. The view of the city below was breathtaking. I could spend hours up there. The front of the church, the towers, the bells, and the gilded status of the Virgin Mary - just beautiful. The church is a tribute to Mary, who the locals of this area believed to have saved them from the plague. After the church was built, the people believed that Mary protected them from many other calamities, natural and war-made. To this day, all of Lyon lights candles in honor of Mary once a year, on the day of the Immaculate Conception.

Inside the church there is a beautiful arched set of stairs leading up and down. I went down first, into the crypt of Saint Jean. It was massive! And dim, and eerie. Upstairs, the main prayer hall was a complete contrast! It was bright and gold and overwhelming! Apparently the objective was to portray the strength and wealth of the Catholic church and boy did they do it well! Every surface, every pillar was covered in art. And all of it magnificent.

For a tiny tiny fee you can get a brochure about the church. I took it, not so much for the information, but more as a non-religious offering to this grand place!

I tried to find out if there is a way to climb to the top of the bell tower, but was told that there wasn't. There is supposed to be something called a Mystery Tour of the church though. And it is the one way to get to the areas of the church that are inaccessible to the general public. I wasn't able to gather much more information about this tour either, unfortunately.

There is an information center at the front of the church, and a gift shop and a smaller chapel to the side of it.

Whatever means you use to get up to it, the church will impress you. So don't miss it while in Lyon!
Just a glimpse..
The view from Place Bellecour
The view from the old chapel of th…
All of Lyon stretches out!
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spocklogic spocklog…
269 reviews
Breathtaking Basilica Feb 27, 2016
The Fourviere area of Lyon, located on a hill rising up above the Saone River, and overlooking modern day Lyon, is one of the great places to visit in this fine city. Fouviere comes from the Latin forum vetus (old forum) since it was the original Roman settlement here called Lugdunum in the 1st century BC. Roman Emperors Claudius and Caracalla were born here. Fast forward to the late 19th century when the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere was built and it is one of the great sights to see in the Fourviere area of Lyon.

So, there are churches, cathedrals and basilicas - what's the difference really? Church is the general name for places of worship in Christianity. Cathedrals and Basilicas are types of churches, but high level ones. Cathedrals are a seat of a diocese (consisting of many parishes) where a bishop sits and conducts mass. Basilicas come in two kinds (major and minor). The major basilicas are all in Rome and only the Pope and his delegates can conduct mass here. The minor basilicas are not the seat of any bishop and usually designated as basilica for historic reasons, honorary for location, architecture or some ecclesiastical reasons.

Remember, the Pope is still a bishop and just the top bishop (The bishop of Rome). So, the major basilicas in Rome are at top of the hierarchy. Next come cathedrals, seats of bishops below the Pope. After this there are the minor basilicas, which rank above all remaining churches. Some minor basilicas are also cathedrals and have precedence over just minor basilicas obviously. Get it, got it? Ok, good, and just wanted to clarify that. Main point is that there is a pecking order here, but this is ecclesiastic in nature and not reflective of the grandeur of the church structure. A small simple cathedral can outrank a grand minor basilica that is not also a cathedral.

Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere is a minor basilica built between 1872-1884 (no cathedral status) on the site of the old Roman forum of Trajan. This is one spectacular basilica and I've seen my share in travels. If you think it looks great from the outside, wait until you get inside. This place is a real gem and I am rarely 'wowed' by the interior of Christian places of worship these days. Seeing St. Peter's in Rome for the first time is a top 'Wow' for comparison. Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere definitely ranks top ten Christian places of worship I've seen, perhaps top five. My photos speak for themselves in that regard.

Some navigational details that may be useful: There are several places where you can scale the hill from the Saone to Fourvière, and steps are available, but it's challenging to reach the top, and some good views of Lyon on the way up. I did this in 2008. I advise taking the Funicular up to the top. The funicular is interesting as being the oldest urban one in the world, so worth doing. See the Fourvière area, including the basilica and then take the steps down to the Saone - get your views of Lyon on pleasant walk down. At the bottom, cross the bridge over the Saone, then walk along the river - some essence of Paris along the Seine to experience here.
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviè…
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviè…
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviè…
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviè…
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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anupa_rk says:
What a great review! I stumbled upon it after writing one of my own :) I read about this church as well as Sacre Coeur being built for divine punishment.. Didn't quite get it though! Thanks for all the explanation!
Posted on: Jun 22, 2016
spocklogic says:
Interesting point about such grand churches being built soon after the Franco Prussian war. In the case of Fouviere Basilica, it was build with private funds, which appears to be the case for Sacre Coeur in Paris too. As near as I can tell, these basilicas are 'inspired' by what some considered divine punishment in losing the Franco Prussian war, as French society had become divided since the French Revolution. These basilicas are apparently a way of thanking God for victory over the French government and making amends for the sins of France. Peculiar perspective, but French history is a particularly tumultuous one.
Posted on: Apr 16, 2016
Zagnut66 says:
Great explanation on the hierarchy of Catholic churches. I find it interesting that this basilica, along with Sacre Coeur in Paris, was built just after the Franco - Prussian War that did not end well for France.
Posted on: Apr 14, 2016
Bojasem Bojasem
205 reviews
nice basilica Sep 26, 2013
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière location in 8 Place de Fourviere, 69005 Lyon, France It was built with private funds between 1872 and 1884 in a dominating position in the city.The design of the basilica by Romanesque and Byzantine architecture.

it was nice i like the statue in the cathedral , Mosaics on walls,painting in the glass.

i advice you came by funicular to be in basilica gate.

the air around the basilica nice & advice you see Lyon from the top after visiting the basilica
mosaic in celling
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