Place des Terreaux provides an overview of Lyon's history. The pits, terralia, which run along the ramparts constructed from the Rhône to the Saône in the Middle Ages, are the origin of its name. During the 17th century it became a public square and is still of importance today.
Saint-Pierre Palace, with its majestic 17th century facade, has housed the Lyon Museum of Fine Arts since 1801. It stands on the foundations of a nunnery founded in the 6th century. Changed repeatedly, it was completely rebuilt in the 17th century and became the royal abbey of the ladies of Saint-Pierre in the reign of Louis XIV (1659).
The monumental fountain (1892) is the work of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, architect of the Statue of Liberty in New York. Initially designed for the city of Bordeaux, it represents the Garonne being led to the Ocean by its four tributaries (horses). It was finally acquired by the city of Lyon and classified as an historic monument in 1995.
In 1994, architect Christian Drevet and artist Daniel Buren redeveloped the square. On the ground there are sixty-nine bright fountains. The columns in black and white stripes, which are so emblematic of the artist, face the Palace of Saint-Pierre. The stripes on the ground match the pilasters of its facade.
Source: Lyon History Museum - Musées Gadagne • To learn more
Thursday 6 and Sunday 9 December from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday 7 and Saturday 8 December from 8 p.m. to midnight
The Bartholdi fountain on Place des Terreaux appears to be fed by the water from an invisible spring hurtling down Colline de la Croix-Rousse. As the water gurgles amidst the spray, beams of light vanish into the pool of the fountain, where lanterns sail by without missing a beat. Patterns of light seem to be marching onward, sweeping over the square and facade in the background. The reflections from the water scatter in flashes of blue and white, revealing the spring – or source – of gushing life and the statue of Amphitrite on her quadriga.
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