Originally a Celtic settlement, Lyon became a Roman town in the 1st Century BC and quickly grew into a major economic, military, and religious center, a true ancient metropolis of 60,000 people, second only to Rome. The remnants of Roman times are still visible in Lyon, such as the glorious amphitheatre from 19 AD. Those who want to know more about ancient Lyon should visit the Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization.
After suffering a crisis in the Middle Ages, the city recreated its meaning and splendor in the Renaissance. Its geographical position, midway on the trade routes from Italy to Great Britain, made the city an important commercial center, with four trade fairs taking place each year. The Medieval city center, St. Paul, St. John, and St. George districts, where authority and trade were concentrated, is today featured on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is a must-see for all visitors.
Lyon also gave the world the Lumiere brothers, who invented the cinematographe, kick-starting the film industry. Their pioneering work is shown daily in the Lumiere Museum, inaugurated in 2002. Lyon has lived up to the traditions of its great innovators, hosting several regular film festivals.
Lyon is a thriving business tourism center, with ambitions to become the premier European business meeting point, both because of its modern infrastructure as well as the beautiful surroundings. The French Alps, with their countless ski resorts, are just half an hour away. So are walking trails and golf courses. The city's surroundings include five nature reserves and several areas where sports lovers can learn and practice ballooning, canyoning, or horseback riding. Lyon is also a gateway to France's oldest and finest wine regions, Rhone-Alpes, Savoy, and du Varais.