& the archaeological site of Saint-Romain-en-Gal – Vienne
Located 30 km to the South of Lyon, on the right bank of the Rhone river, the archaeological site of Saint-Romain-en-Gal – Vienne offers on a big area, the remains of a neighborhood of the Roman city of Vienne. This amazing archeological site wouldn’t be complete without a museum to house the important findings of the area.
To meet the requirements of a site museum, to ensure the introduction, study and conservation of the collections, Philippe Chaix and Jean-Paul Morel designed a complex of two very different buildings, finished in 1996:
A) Along the river, the permanent exhibition building, built on stilts, is an aerial structure, that perfectly merges with the plan of a city block of the Roman city explored before its construction. Transparent on all fronts, the permanent exhibition building provides an overview of the Gallo-Roman district of Saint-Romain-en-Gal, the Rhone river and the city of Vienna on the left bank.
B) Perpendicular to the Rhone river, the reception building with concrete structures appears firmly rooted to the ground. It welcomes the various functions of the museum such as the ticket office, the temporary exhibition, the shop and the restaurant, as well as a research center and a mosaic restoration workshop.
The permanent exhibition
The collections provide a complete view of the daily life in the first centuries AD. The layout has an ethnological approach, with numerous reconstructions in the form of models. The visitor, is introduced first to the site and its history, and the extent of the Romanization, including the mosaic of the victorious athletes, the wrestlers’ baths paintings and the model of Vienne in the second century AD.
Crafts, trade and the economic importance of the city, source of wealth for its inhabitants, are then discussed in the museum part overlooking the Rhône, recalling then the essential role of the river as a mean of communication and transportation. Further, it is also possible to discover the diversity of the designs and the original style of the Vienne mosaic.
Finally, overlooking the archaeological site, a presentation of the Roman house, room by room, which restores the context and gestures of the daily life.
The archeological site
On seven hectares, the vestiges of the rich residential area of Vienna, then a “Roman colony”, can be found. Located at the edge of the Rhône, the major axis by which the goods between the Mediterranean Sea and the provinces of the North passed in transit, as the city of Vienna, knew a strong development in the 50s AD. The wealth of the inhabitants is expressed by the luxury of houses which are situated next to the thermal baths, shops, workshops of craftsmen, workshops.
In 1967, before the construction of a high school, the archaeologists began a big excavation in the place named “La Plaine”. And there is the surprise! They discovered the vestiges of an entire city! The brought to light of the big houses with the luxurious accommodations, paved ways, public thermal baths, warehouses and workshops, enable slowly but surely to recompose an urban landscape among which the organization and the attention to comfort amaze by their modernity.
The museum offers wonderful views through its all glass walls, but get on the roof of it, via the huge stairways outside the main entrance, to admire all the splendid of the area.
Opening hours: The museum is open every day from 10 a.m to 6 p.m, except Mondays and public holidays.
Admission fees: Full rate: 6€ - Reduced rate: 3€
A single ticket for six museums and sites of the Vienne area is available for the price of 8 €.