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Constructed between 1180 and 1440, the 'Primatiale' is found in the middle of historic Lyon in the Saint-Jean district.
Built upon a Romanesque arch, the Gothic structure is shaped like a basilica with a 32m-high nave, two side aisles (lined with chapels), a choir, an apse and a transept. It measures 79m in length and 60m at its widest. In addition to the cathedral, this very beautiful Gothic unit includes a small and a large sacristy, a winter choir and the 'Manécanterie' (parish choir school). After serving as a dining hall for the canons, it became the home of the cantors (from which it gets its name, since 'mane cantare' means 'singing in the early morning'). Inside, there is a nave comprised of a sexpartite rib vault (the ribs end in thin columns).
There are a few beautiful rooms inside that absolutely must be seen:
The northern transept holds the astronomic clock, which was built in 1538 by Hugues Level, a clockmaker from Lyon, and his one-time master, N. Lippius, from Basel. It is made up of three faces: an oval one for the minutes, a perpetual calendar spanning from 1954 to 2019, and an astrolabe indicating the position of the stars on the Lyon horizon.
As for its baroque decor, it dates from its restitution in 1660.
The stained-glass windows, dating from the 13th century, are quite remarkable, especially the medallion ones high up on the wall.
The Bourbon chapel: with its Flamboyant arches displaying great finesse, the chapel, dating from the end of the 15th century, is a worthy representative of Gothic architecture. It was erected to hold the tomb of Cardinal Archbishop Charles of Bourbon (1446-1478), which was destroyed by the troops of the Baron des Adrets in 1562.
The façade: begun in the 14th century by Archbishop Pierre de Savoie, it is composed of three great doors decorated with some 300 medallions forming a series of historical scenes.
The left door depicts the history of Samson, St. Peter and the Apocalypse. The central door displays the agricultural calendar, the signs of the zodiac, the life of St. John the Baptist and Genesis.
The right door tells the legend of Théophile, several saints and various animals.