Lyon (Rhône)

The Temple of Heaven is a emblem of the 16th century Reformation.

Before the construction of the temple

  • Lyons (69), interior of the Paradis temple (1564) © Fonds B.P.U. Genève

The Reformation goes back to as early as 1176, when Pierre Valdo, a forerunner, established the Waldensian Community.

The Reformed first used the Sainte-Croix church where they set up an « amphitheatre » with pews, and posted God’s commandments as well as the King’s armorial bearings on the door.

In 1563, a national synod was held in Lyon. A soon as 1564, real estate was bought to be transformed into a temple. It was built in six months and called the « Temple of Heaven”.

It is said that the Reformed chose the name ‘Heaven’, “because the galleries inside shaped like overhanging balconies made it look like heaven” (parcequ’il était environné en dedans de galeries en forme de balcons saillants qu’ils disaient ressembler à un paradis » as stated in the 1743 issue of the Almanach de Lyon).

The pastor's pulpit was placed in the centre of the edifice

Built on centred plan, the edifice comprised three double staircases leading to tribunes and galleries all around. A circular pointed roof covered the main hall.

The pastor’s pulpit was in the centre with pews around it. The triforium on the first floor was lighted by dormer windows. The interior decoration on the walls consisted of boxes featuring the armorial bearings of the King and of the town.

The lay-out of the building underlined the importance of the centred plan contributing to the contact between the minister and the congregation, as in a theatre.

Unfortunately its use was to be short-lived, as the temple was destroyed in 1567, shortly before the second war of religion. The name « Heaven » was kept for the street in which it had been built.

Lyon (Rhône)


  • Books
    • DUBIEF Henri et POUJOL Jacques, La France protestante, Histoire et Lieux de mémoire, Max Chaleil éditeur, Montpellier, 1992, rééd. 2006, p. 450
    • LAURENT René, Promenade à travers les temples de France, Les Presses du Languedoc, Millau, 1996, p. 520
    • REYMOND Bernard, L’architecture religieuse des protestants, Labor et Fides, Genève, 1996
    • RONDOT Nathalie, Les protestants de Lyon au dix-septième siècle, Mougin-Rusard, Lyon, 1891
  • Articles
    • GUICHARNAUD Hélène, "Approche de l’architecture des Temples protestants construits en France avant la Révocation", Études théologiques et Religieuses, Institut Protestant de Théologie, Montpellier, 2000, Tome 75

Associated notes