Lyon, France, the capital of Rhône department, in the east-central part of the country. It is the third largest city in France (after Paris and Marseille). Lyon is at the junction of the Rhône and Saône rivers; its business center is on the peninsula between the two rivers. The city is a busy river port and railway center.
Textile manufacturing is the main industry here. For centuries Lyon was famous for the production of silk, but today most of the textiles made there are of synthetic fibers. Other products include metal goods, chemicals, and machinery. A major international trade fair is held here each spring.
Lyon has several fine museums and notable churches, including the Church of Saint Martin d'Ainay. It is the oldest church in the city, with foundations dating from the fifth century B.C. The Cathedral of Saint Jean, begun in the 12 th century, combines Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The University of Lyon was founded in 1809 and reorganized into three universities in the 1970's. The Opéra de Lyon is home to both an opera and a ballet company.
Lyon was founded as a Roman colony, named Lugdunum, in the first century B.C. Soon after it became the leading city of Gaul. Three Roman emperors were born in Lugdunum. In the second century, the city became a major center of Christianity. Archbishops governed Lyon until the early 1300's, when it came under the sovereignty of the French king. The city was severely damaged by French revolutionists in 1793. During World War II, Lyon was a center of France's resistance movement against the German occupation from 1940 until the city was liberated in 1944.