Located at the foot of the Croix-Rousse hill, the square laid out in 1980 is named after Louis Pradel who was Mayor of Lyon from 1957 to 1976.
It is overlooked by two impressive buildings, City Hall and the Opera and is linked to the banks of the Rhône by an esplanade featuring sculptures by Ipoustéguy and César.
Today’s opera is the third building to stand here. Rebuilt in 1993 by Jean Nouvel, it forms a striking contrast with the 17th-century City Hall. The architect kept the original walls and façades but topped the building with a huge domed glass roof which is home to the dance studios.
To the north of the square, the streets become much narrower, winding between the former silk weavers’ houses up to the top of the Croix Rousse hill. Silk-weaving left its stamp on the district which the people of Lyon dubbed the “hill of labour” as opposed to Fourvière with its basilica, the “hill of prayer”.
In 1982, Ipoustéguy created four sculptures in collaboration with architect Charles Delfante. Opposite the opera stands “The Sun”, otherwise known as the fountain of lovers. It is a large bronze disk upon which lines of a poem by Renaissance poet Louise Labé are engraved: Permets m’amour penser quelques folies… On the opposite side, on place Tolozan, L’homme de la Liberté, César’s roller-skating figure is a reminder that the square doubles as a makeshift skate park.