Lyon – The Amazing Mural Paintings
Lyon is not only known for its gastronomy, its secret passageways (traboules), the Roman theatre or its old streets. Lyon is also known as one of the cities in the world with the most number mural paintings (frescos). Most of them are really good, but one, the most famous one, is totally amazing.
Here is an overview of some of these mural paintings, starting with the most important one, the “Mur des Canuts“. Canuts was the name given to the silk workers in the factories, and they lived on the Croix-Rousse hill (one of two hills in Lyon) in low-income housing. One of these buildings has an enormous blind wall, meaning a wall with nothing on it except a few ventilation windows.
This is what the wall looked like in the beginning:
As you can see, it’s a nothing wall with a few advertisement billboards. But in 1987 the city together with CiteCreation (a company specialising in creating art in urban environments – check the link to see many impressive works of art they have made) made this very impressive mural. It is currently in its 3rd version (after 1987 they updated the painting in 1997 and then again in 2013).
This is Europe’s largest and biggest mural painting covering 1200 m2. It’s what the French call a “trompe l’oeil” (=optical illusion) and every thing you see on the wall is an illusion.
Let’s have a closer look at the details:
Even the crane is a painting, as is the building in the background.
Part of the money required for the painting comes from corporate sponsors who have their logo (or bank) painted on the mural.
The details are amazing. Standing at the other side of the road, many parts are indistinguishable from real.
But this is not the only mural painting in Lyon. Lyon is known for its frescos, and some 25 works of art can be seen all over the city (and for free), most made by the company cited above. Just to give you an idea, here are a few of them:
This is the wall of the “Bibliothèque de la cité des écrivains” close to the main Mairie of Lyon. Notice the mailman going to the mailbox. The mailbox is real! Behind the mailman is a painting of one of the painters…
Remember, you can click on any photo for a bigger version to popup.
The whole wall is covered in books.
Although not an illusion but a “normal” fresco, this one can be found on the side of the “Bourse du Travail” theatre.
This side wall, right next to the library one above, has windows and a panther pained on a blink wall.
Even in the old Lyon centre you’ll find some beautiful murals adorning empty walls. Here’s one of them:
The large mural depicts the scaffolding of the construction of the “Cours des Loges” hotel, a hotel built in an ancient convent.
Whether you want to or not, you’ll not be able to escape seeing these painted walls since they are all over Lyon. There are guided tours just to see many of the works of art, and there’s even a smartphone app that allows you to get more information and find the murals (but it is in French).
TIP: A visit to the “Mur des Canuts” is a must, and you can take the Metro/Funicular line (from the main Mairie – Place des Terreaux) that brings you to the Henon stop (some 200 meters downhill to the painting).