Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, Lyon
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière atop Fourvière Hill is votively dedicated to Virgin Mary, patron saint of Lyon, for saving the city from several adversities – scurvy in 1638, the Black Death of bubonic plague that spread through Europe in 1643, cholera epidemic in 1832, and Prussian invasion in 1870.
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière atop Fourvière Hill is votively dedicated to Virgin Mary, patron saint of Lyon, for saving the city from several adversities – scurvy in 1638, the Black Death of bubonic plague that spread through Europe in 1643, cholera epidemic in 1832, and Prussian invasion in 1870. Take the F2 Funicular from Saint-Jean and explore the breathtaking basilica, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of 'Historic Site of Lyons'.
Built in 1872-'84 on the site of the ancient Roman Forum of Trajan, it was designed by Pierre Bossan in typical 19th century eclectic style with Romanesque and Byzantine elements. It has four 48 metre high turreted towers at the corners, and is said to be reminiscent of an upside down elephant, with the towers resembling its legs. Its belltower is topped with a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary, while the apse is crowned by a statue of Archangel Michael. The exuberant Byzantine interiors are a grand amalgamation of marble, ornate mosaics, gilt work and stained glass. The church is divided into three naves, above which there are three cupolas depicting the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the apse at the heart of the Basilica is Paul-Émile Millefaut's statue of the Virgin Mary with Child Jesus in Carrara marble, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. Surrounding the main altar are iconographic mosaics of the 11 Heresies. The 8 lateral chapels illustrate events from the Virgin Mary’s life, and the stained glass windows by Decôte depict Virgin Mary in Heaven. The lower church which is the crypt is dedicated to St Joseph. The Museum of Religious Art holds treasures donated to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere for its construction.
You can climb the 287 steps to the balcony of the basilica observatory for panoramic views of the area. Next to the basilica is the ancient Chapelle Saint-Thomas dedicated to the Virgin Mary and to St Thomas of Canterbury. The terrace around here also provides great views over Lyon.