Vienne, Isère

Coordinates: 45°31′27″N 4°52′41″E / 45.5242°N 4.8781°E / 45.5242; 4.8781
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Vièna (Arpitan)
Vienne - Quai du Rhône, église Saint-André-le-Bas et chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette, depuis Saint-Romain-en-Gal.jpeg
Isère, Vienne - Temple d'Auguste et de Livie 1.jpg
Vienne (Isère) - Théâtre antique depuis le mont Pipet (août 2020).jpg
Facade Cathédrale Vienne 2.JPG
Vienne (avril 2009) 022.jpg
Trois collines à Vienne.jpg
Petite rue de la cocarde.jpg
Vienne (Isère) - Les rives de la Gère -2.JPG
From left to right, top to bottom: partial view of the city and the Rhône river from Saint-Romain-en-Gal with the Pipet sanctuary atop the hill; the Gallo-Roman temple of Augustus and Livia; the Gallo-Roman Theatre and the city from Pipet hill; the Saint-Maurice Cathedral; the Obelisk from the Gallo-Roman circus; the Château de la Bastie atop its hill; the Petite rue de la Cocarde; the Gère riverbanks with its traditional architecture.
Coat of arms of Vienne
Vienna Civitas Sancta
"Vienne Saint City" (prior to 1887)
Vienna Urbs Senatoria
"Vienne Senatorial City" (since 1887)
Location of Vienne
Vienne is located in France
Vienne is located in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Coordinates: 45°31′27″N 4°52′41″E / 45.5242°N 4.8781°E / 45.5242; 4.8781
CantonVienne-1 and 2
IntercommunalityCA Vienne Condrieu
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Thierry Kovacs[1] (LR)
22.65 km2 (8.75 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2020)[2]
 • Density1,300/km2 (3,400/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
38544 /38200
Elevation140–404 m (459–1,325 ft)
(avg. 169 m or 554 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Vienne (French: [vjɛn] (listen); Arpitan: Vièna) is a town in southeastern France, located 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of Lyon, at the confluence of the Gère and the Rhône. It is the fourth-largest commune in the Isère department, of which it is a subprefecture alongside La Tour-du-Pin. Vienne was a major centre of the Roman Empire under the Latin name Vienna.

Vienne was the capital of the Allobroges, a Gallic people, before its conquest by the Romans. Transformed into a Roman colony in 47 BC under Julius Caesar, Vienne became a major urban centre, ideally located along the Rhône, then a major axis of communication. Emperor Augustus banished Herod the Great's son, the ethnarch Herod Archelaus to Vienne in 6 AD.[3]

As a Roman provincial capital, remains of Roman constructions are widespread across modern Vienne. The city was also an important early bishopric in Christian Gaul. Its most famous bishop was Avitus of Vienne. At the Council of Vienne, which was convened there in October 1311, Pope Clement V abolished the order of the Knights Templar. During the Middle Ages, Vienne was part of the Kingdom of Provence, dependent of the Holy Roman Empire; on the opposite bank of the Rhône was Kingdom of France, which made the city strategically important.[4]

The town is now a regional commercial and industrial centre, known regionally for its Saturday market. A Roman temple, circus pyramid and theatre (where the annual Jazz à Vienne is held), as well as museums (archaeological, textile industry) and notable Catholic buildings, make tourism an important part of the town's economy.


Roman Vienne[edit]

Roman temple (Temple d'Auguste et de Livie, Temple of Augustus and Livia)
Vienne's Roman pyramid

The oppidum of the Allobroges became a Roman colony about 47 BC under Julius Caesar, but the Allobroges managed to expel the Romans; the exiles then founded the colony of Lugdunum (today's Lyon).[4] Ethnarch of Judea Herod Archelaus was exiled here in 6 AD.[5] During the early Empire, Vienna (as the Romans called it—not to be confused with today's Vienna, then known as Vindobona) regained all its former privileges as a Roman colony. In 260 Postumus was proclaimed Emperor here of a short-lived Gallo-Roman Empire. Later it became a provincial capital of the Dioecesis Viennensis.

Vienne became the seat of the vicar of prefects after the creation of regional dioceses, of which the date is still controversial. Regional dioceses were created during the First Tetrarchy, 293–305, or possibly later as some recent studies suggest in 313, but no later than the Verona List, which is securely dated to June 314.[6]

On the bank of the Gère are traces of the ramparts of the old Roman city, and on Mont Pipet (east of the town) are the remains of a Roman theatre, while the ruined thirteenth-century castle there was built on Roman footings. Several ancient aqueducts and traces of Roman roads can still be seen.

Two important Roman monuments still stand at Vienne. One is the Early Imperial Temple of Augustus and Livia, a rectangular peripteral building of the Corinthian order, erected by the emperor Claudius, which owes its survival, like the Maison Carrée at Nîmes, to being converted to a church soon after the Theodosian decrees and later rededicated as "Notre Dame de Vie." During the Revolutionary Reign of Terror it was used for the local Festival of Reason. The other is the Plan de l'Aiguille, a truncated pyramid resting on a portico with four arches, from the Roman circus. Legends from the 13th century mention Pontius Pilate's death in Vienne. Later legends held that the pyramid was either the tomb of Herod Archelaus or of Pontius Pilate.[7]

The vestiges of a temple to Cybèle were discovered in 1945 when a new hospital was built on Mount Salomon and the Ancien Hôpital in the center of town was torn down. Subsequent archaeological research conducted in 1965 permitted detailed reconstruction of the floor plan for the temple as well as the surrounding forum and established that the temple was constructed in the first century AD.[8]

Christian Vienne[edit]

Léonard Périer, Virgin and Child, colossal statue overlooking Vienne from the Pipet hill

The provincial capital was an important early seat of a bishop and the legendary first bishop is said to have been Crescens, a disciple of Paul. There were Christians here in 177 when the churches of Vienne and Lyon addressed a letter to those of Asia and Phrygia, and mention is made of Sanctus, a deacon of Vienne (Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History).[9] The first historical bishop was Verus, who was present at the Council of Arles (314). About 450, Vienne's bishops became archbishops, several of whom played an important cultural role, e.g. Mamertus, who established Rogation pilgrimages, and the poet, Avitus (498-518). Vienne's archbishops and those of Lyon disputed the title of "Primate of All the Gauls" based on the dates of founding of the cities compared to the dates of founding of the bishoprics.[4] Vienne's archbishopric was suppressed in 1790,[4] during the French Revolution and officially terminated 11 years later by the Concordat of 1801.

Burgundian Vienne[edit]

Vienne was a target during the Migration Period: it was taken by the Kingdom of the Burgundians in 438, but re-taken by the Romans and held until 461. In 534 the Merovingian-led Franks captured Vienne. It was then sacked by the Lombards in 558, and later by the Moors in 737.[4] When Francia's king divided Frankish Burgundia into three parts in 843 by the Treaty of Verdun, Vienne became part of Middle Francia.

In the Kingdom of Provence[edit]

King Charles II the Bald assigned the Viennois district in 869 to Comte Boso of Provence, who in 879 proclaimed himself king of Provence and on his death in 887 was buried at Vienne in the cathedral church of St. Maurice.[4] Vienne then continued as capital of the Dauphiné Vienne of the Kingdom of Provence, from 882 of the Kingdom of West Francia and from 933 of the Kingdom of Burgundy until in 1032, when it reverted to the Holy Roman Empire, but the real rulers were the archbishops of Vienne. Their rights were repeatedly recognized, but they had serious local rivals in the counts of Albon, and later Dauphins of the surrounding countship of the Viennois. In 1349, the reigning Dauphin sold his rights to the Dauphiné to France, but the archbishop stood firm and Vienne was not included in this sale. The archbishops finally surrendered their territorial powers to France in 1449.[4] Gui de Bourgogne, who was archbishop 1090–1119, was pope from 1119 to 1124 as Callixtus II.

The Council of Vienne was the fifteenth Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church that met between 1311 and 1312 in Vienne. Its principal act was to withdraw papal support for the Knights Templar[4] on the instigation of Philip IV of France.


The ruins of Vienne's medieval castle
Vienne Town Hall

The archbishops did not give up their rights over it to France till 1449, when it first became French. Vienne was sacked in 1562 by the Protestants under the baron des Adrets, and was held for the Ligue 1590–95, when it was taken in the name of Henri IV by Montmorency. The fortifications were demolished between 1589 and 1636.[4]

Industrial era[edit]

Train stations were built in Vienne in 1855 and in Estressin in 1875 providing freight transport to the textile and metallurgy industries, which had begun taking advantage of the water power in the valley of the river Gère in the previous centuries.[10]


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1793 12,035—    
1800 10,362−2.12%
1806 11,188+1.29%
1821 11,273+0.05%
1831 14,079+2.25%
1836 16,484+3.20%
1841 17,587+1.30%
1846 18,610+1.14%
1851 20,753+2.20%
1856 19,698−1.04%
1861 20,708+1.01%
1866 23,605+2.65%
1872 26,017+1.63%
1876 26,502+0.46%
1881 26,060−0.34%
1886 25,480−0.45%
1891 24,817−0.53%
1896 24,977+0.13%
1901 24,619−0.29%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1906 24,887+0.22%
1911 24,711−0.14%
1921 23,732−0.40%
1926 25,092+1.12%
1931 25,648+0.44%
1936 25,436−0.17%
1946 23,519−0.78%
1954 25,669+1.10%
1962 26,977+0.62%
1968 29,057+1.25%
1975 27,830−0.61%
1982 28,294+0.24%
1990 29,449+0.50%
1999 29,975+0.20%
2007 29,844−0.05%
2012 29,077−0.52%
2017 29,306+0.16%
Source: EHESS[11] and INSEE (1968-2017)[12]


The two outstanding Roman remains in Vienne are the temple of Augustus and Livia, and the Plan de l'Aiguille or Pyramide, a truncated pyramid resting on a portico with four arches, which was associated with the city's Roman circus.

The early Romanesque church of Saint Peter belonged to an ancient Benedictine abbey and was rebuilt in the ninth century, with tall square piers and two ranges of windows in the tall aisles and a notable porch. It is one of France's oldest Christian buildings dating from the 5th century laid-out in the form of a basilica and having a large and well constructed nave. It also has a Romanesque tower and a sculptured South portal containing a statue of Saint Peter. Today, the building houses a lapidary museum that holds a Junon head and a statue of Tutela, the city's protective divinity.

The Gothic former cathedral of St Maurice was built between 1052 and 1533. It is a basilica, with three aisles and an apse, but no ambulatory or transepts. It is 315 feet (96 m) in length, 118 feet (36 m) wide and 89 feet (27 m) in height. The most striking portion is the west front, which rises majestically from a terrace overhanging the Rhône. Its sculptural decoration was badly damaged by the Protestants in 1562 during the Wars of Religion.[4]

The Romanesque church of St André en Bas was the church of a second Benedictine monastery, and became the chapel of the earlier kings of Provence. It was rebuilt in 1152, in the later Romanesque style.[4]


Notable people[edit]

Sculpture of St. Avitus of Vienne

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Vienne is twinned with:[16]


  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les maires"., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises (in French). 2 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Populations légales 2020". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 29 December 2022.
  3. ^ Flavius Josephus. "Book 17". Antiquities of the Jews. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCoolidge, William Augustus Brevoort (1911). "Vienne". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 56.
  5. ^ Josephus, Wars of the Jews (book 2, chapter 7, verse 3).
  6. ^ Constantin Zuckerman, 'Sur la liste de Verone et la province de Grande Armenie, la division de l'empire et la date de création des dioceses', 2002 Travaux et Memoires 12: Mélanges Gilbert Dagron, pp. 618-637 argues for a decision to create diocese by Constantine and Licinius at the meeting in Milan in February 313; since 1980 several scholars have suggested later dates (303, 305, 306, 313/14) than the traditional date of 297 set by Theodor Mommsen in the late 19th century
  7. ^ a b Jacques Berlioz (1990). "Crochet de fer et puits à tempêtes: La légende de Ponce Pilate à Vienne (Isère) et au mont Pilat au XIIIe siècle". Le Monde Alpin et Rhodanien (in French). 18 (1): 85–104. doi:10.3406/mar.1990.1436.
  8. ^ André Pelletier (1966). "Les fouilles du "temple de cybèle" à Vienne (Isère) rapport provisoire". Revue Archéologique (in French). Presses Universitaires de France (1): 113–150. JSTOR 41005435.
  9. ^ Eusebius, Medieval Sourcebook: The Persecution & Martyrdoms of Lyons In 177 A.D. - The Letter of the Churchs of Vienna and Lyons to the Churches of Asia and Phrygia including the story of the Blessed Blandina, Fordham University, accessed 29 January 2023
  10. ^ "Quartier d'Estressin, Vienne". Art et Histoire en Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (in French). Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  11. ^ Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Commune data sheet Vienne, EHESS (in French).
  12. ^ Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  13. ^ Franz Staab (1998). "Jugement moral et propagande: Boson de Vienne vu par les élites du royaume de l'Est". In Régine Le Jen (ed.). La royauté et les élites dans l'Europe carolingienne (du début du IXe aux environs de 920). Histoire et littérature du Septentrion (IRHiS) (in French). L'institut de recherches historiques du Septentrion. pp. 365–382. ISBN 9782905637994.
  14. ^ Revue de Vienne: esquisses morales, littéraires, statistiques et industrielles (in French). Vol. 1. Vienne. 1837. pp. 11–14.
  15. ^ "Ponsard, François" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 22 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 62.
  16. ^ "Jumelage". (in French). Comité d'Organisation d'Echanges Internationaux de la ville de Vienne. Retrieved 2021-04-12.

External links[edit]