Lyon has an exceptional setting on two hills at the confluence of the two rivers, the Rhône and the Sâone. The city has preserved its historic centers and its architectural harmony because it has moved eastwards and successfully adapted to the different religious periods as well as to the economic and social expansion of the city, especially during the 19th century.
Lyon (Lugdunum) was founded in 43 BC on the Fourvière hill. The Romans built a network of roads that highly contributed to the economic expansion of Lugdunum, the capital of the Three Gauls.
Many famous artists, architects, scientists and engineers passed through it on their way or even lived in the city because of its exceptional geographical situation. Architects such as Soufflot, Morand and Perrache had a great influence on the architecture. The latter architect gave his name to Perrache, a whole district in the center of Lyon where Perrache railway station is located.
Some other famous people contributed to the cultural and scientific expansion of Lyon: François Rabelais, the 16th humanist, who practised medicine in Lyon; the Lumière Brothers who invented the cinema and made their first film in the city in 1895; Jacquard, the inventor of textile machines who revolutionized the work of silk in the Croix-Rousse quarter.
Today, some students can go to the famous Louis Ampère Junior High school, whose name reminds us of the famous electrician Louis Ampère (1910). Town planners have succeeded in preserving the urban continuity of Lyon. Since 1964, the slopes of the Croix-Rousse and Old Lyon area have been protected by a Plan for Preservation and Enhancement.
Many historic areas have been restored in Old Lyon and new quarters such as Gerland, Vaise (9th district) have developed to adapt to new economic sectors (automobiles, chemicals, pharmacy), high school education centers and tourism.
The ex-mayor of the city Michel Noir transformed Lyon into the city of lights when he planned the lighting of all the monuments by night in the 90s. His plan contributed to the international expansion of the city.