The symbol of Lyon and the seat of its government is a stunning 17th-century building with a history of swamps, fires and revolutions.
Be sure to visit the City Hall of Lyon (Hôtel de Ville de Lyon) on your journey through this historic city. The magnificent structure has a rich legacy of stories and an elegant façade that causes visitors to stop and stare. Come to see the stunning exterior, then explore the surrounding square to see further examples of gorgeous Lyonnais art and architecture.
Walk up to the hall from Place des Terreaux, the spacious plaza in central Lyon. The area was once just a swampy pit, eventually filled in during the 16th century. Admire the features of the hall, which was built between 1646 and 1651, then rebuilt after a fire in 1674. Since then, the square was used as the site of executions during the revolutionary era.
Bring your camera for photos of the stunning façade, which is covered in intriguing artistic features. The four sets of arched windows on the bottom floor are topped with medallions depicting the Bourbon dynasty, while the symbolic lion of the city can be found carved above window pediments. Crane your neck upward to look at the center of the building. A belfry and clocktower stand above the statue of King Henry IV riding a horse.
For most of the year, the Hôtel de Ville is open only for legal and governmental matters. Come to the city during the European Heritage Days in September, however, and you will be able to glimpse the ornate interiors of this stunning building. A gilded reception room with numerous crystal chandeliers is just one of the hall’s numerous highlights.
Take some time to explore the Place des Terreaux. The Bartholdi Fountain, designed by the artist behind the Statue of Liberty, is a magnificent sculpture depicting the four tributaries of the Garonne River as wild horses. Come to the square in December for the awe-inspiring Festival of Lights.
The City Hall of Lyon has its own subway stop, making it easily accessible on public transportation. Walk here from Old Lyon, on the other side of the River Saône, in about 20 minutes.