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Vienne: the remains of an ancient Roman city

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The town of Vienne is located along the Rhone river about 30 km south of Lyon. This city was founded by the Romans and is today an important archaeological center and is in fact classified as a city of art and history (Ville d’Art et d’Histoire).

Vienne was founded as a Celtic village on the left bank of the Rhone 30 km south of Lyon. The actual city was instead subsequently founded by Julius Caesar in 47 BC. as a Roman colony. Under the emperor Augustus it was named “Colonia Julia Augusta Florentia Vienna”.

Thanks to its position it soon became an important administrative center and from 259 to 269 AD, Vienne was the capital of the Viennensis Province.

In 438 AD the Germanic tribe of the Burgundians conquered the city. A century later Vienne was under the control of the Franks. Later, Charles II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, gave Vienne to the king of Provence. In 933, it became part of the Bourguignon Kingdom of Arles. At the end of the 9th century, the city became part of the Holy Roman Empire.


Even today the city is famous for its Roman remains. Among the works left by the Romans there are a theater (which originally had over 13,000 seats), an aqueduct, the porticoes of the Forum, and above all the most beautiful monument by far: the Roman Temple of Augustus and Livia.


The temple was built in the first part of the first century AD, this beautiful temple – almost completely intact – is located in the center of the town, and is surrounded on three sides by columns.

The style criteria followed in its construction allow a fairly precise dating around the years 20-10 BC. At that time the temple was probably dedicated to the emperor.

Subsequently the facade and two thirds of the eastern part of the building were rebuilt, and this time the temple was also dedicated to Livia, the wife of Augustus, who died in 29 AD. and was deified at the beginning of Claudius’ reign.

In the ancient Roman forum you can admire two huge arches that are located on the corner of the “Archaeological Garden of Cybele”. The two arches were built with limestone specially transported from the south of France, this building was built during the reign of Emperor Tiberius.

Vienne really deserves a stop. The main places to visit include: the Roman theater, the aqueduct, the porticoes of the Forum, the Roman Temple of Augustus and Livia. The sanctuary and the monumental complex of Pipet. Then there are the pyramid of the circus, the palace of Miroir and the archaeological site of Saint Romain en Gal.



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