It may not have much of a name - 'la tour metallique' (the metal tower) - but it is the highest point in Lyon, thus outdoing its neighbour which was built a few years earlier. This is no coincidence: the basilica's guidebook explains that for unbelievers, free-thinkers and republicans, the church was a provocation, a 'citadel of superstition'. A battle for height therefore took place - and the tower won by a few dozen metres.
Today both monuments dominate the skyline, by night as well as by day. The basilica, unlike the tower, remains open to visitors - and it's well worth going to look at the stunning, high Victorian interior. However, neither party would win prizes for subtlety. While the church might have lost out in terms of height, its giant golden statue of the Virgin Mary perched at the top made a pretty distinctive landmark. The statue is currently at ground level while its tower is being restored.
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