Ever since the Romans founded the capital of the Three Gauls in the 1st century BC on the site of a proto-urban Celtic settlement, Lyon has played a leading role in the political, cultural and economic development of Europe. Its long history is vividly illustrated by its urban fabric and by its many historic buildings from all ages.
The specific character of the historic site of Lyon arises from its remarkable site on two hills at the confluence of two rivers, combined with the materialization of a unique life-style through its urban development and architecture. Since its creation in 43 BC at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône, Lyon has played an important role as a centre for the exchange of goods and ideas, strongly representative of European values.
It is also remarkable for the harmonious continuity of its urban development. Unlike the majority of European cities where the town centre is constantly transformed and reconstructed, in Lyon, the town centre moved progressively eastwards over the centuries, abandoning earlier centres. In this way, the centres of each period can still be seen. The unusual coherence of the visible urban fabric can be explained by an architectural harmony surpassing stylistic trends, and by the symbiosis of the natural site and urban development.
Criterion (ii): Lyon offers outstanding testimony to the continuity of urban settlement over more than two thousand years on a site with enormous commercial and strategic significance, where cultural traditions from various regions of Europe merged to create a homogeneous and lively community.
Criterion (iv): By virtue of its specific spatial development, Lyon provides an outstanding illustration of the progress and development of architectural design and urban development over the centuries.