Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere (Lyon)

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière (known as Basilique de Fourvière in French) is a minor basilica in Lyon. It was built with private funds between 1872 and 1884 in a dominating position in the city. The site it occupies was once the Roman forum of Trajan, the forum vetus (old forum), thus its name (as an inverted corruption of the French Vieux-Forum).

Fourvière is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who saved the city of Lyon from a cholera epidemic sweeping Europe in 1823. Each year in early December (December 8, day of the Immaculate Conception), Lyon thanks the Virgin for saving the city by lighting candles throughout the city, in what is called the Fête des Lumières or the Festival of Lights.

The design of the basilica, by Pierre Bossan, draws from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, two non-Gothic models that were unusual choices at the time. It has four main towers, and a belltower topped with a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary. It features fine mosaics, superb stained glass, and a crypt of Saint Joseph.

Fourvière actually contains two churches, one on top of the other. The upper sanctuary is very ornate, while the lower is a much simpler design. Work on the triumphant basilica was begun in 1872 and finished in 1884. Finishing touches in the interior were not completed until 1964.

Bossan's first sketches for the basilica seem to date from 1846. At the time he was in Palermo. The basilica has the somewhat irreverent local nickname of "the upside-down elephant".

 

Top tourist attractions:

France - Lyon

Place Bellecour
Vieux Lyon - Old Lyon
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere
Ancient Theatre of Fourviere
Cathedrale Saint Jean-Baptiste

La Croix-Rousse
Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon
Musee des Confluences

 

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