Montreal, located at the confluence of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers, is the second largest city in Canada. This is the cultural center of the province of Quebec, famous for its prestigious universities, museums and festivals.
Who travels to Montreal and why
Montreal, founded by French colonists in the middle of the 17th century, is a bustling and beautiful city where old and modern buildings successfully coexist. Millions of tourists come here to stroll through the streets of Old Montreal, see the Oratory of St. Joseph, Jacques Cartier Square, Notre Dame Cathedral of Montreal.
City museums occupy a leading position in Canada and enjoy well-deserved popularity. The exhibitions feature archaeological exhibits, works of art, objects of religious worship, collections of coins, early printed books, and weapons.
Vibrant cultural life attracts tourists from different countries to Montreal:
- At the end of August, an international film festival starts here, highlighting new films. On the agenda are viewing innovative works, discussion of films, meetings with actors, producers, directors.
- In the last days of July, fans of jazz music come to the city. For ten whole days, performances by famous musicians take place on the main stages. The holiday, accompanied by mass festivities and fireworks, gathers thousands of jazz fans.
In the warm season, Montreal offers various recreational options for active people. There are well-maintained beaches, boat rental, sports clubs. Travelers go kayaking, fishing, boating, hiking or horseback riding. The parks are equipped with rope towns and cable cars on the tops of trees for extreme climbing.
A rich cultural program awaits children and adults. Tourists have fun on playgrounds, visit excursions, water park. The center has attractions aimed at kids and schoolchildren.
The historic quarter in the district of Ville-Marie is located within the old defensive fortifications. Unfortunately, all the fortification towers were destroyed in the 19th century during the reconstruction of Montreal. Most of the other architectural monuments were saved.
Beautiful squares, cathedrals, mansions of noble people have been preserved in the Old Town. Walking here, you can see the bank building, the city hall, the seminary of St. Sulpice, interesting museums.
A bustling street in the center of Montreal is a great place for walking and shopping. Branching trees are planted along the wide pavement. There are benches in the shade. Cafes, china shops, fashion boutiques, grocery stores are open in the houses.
Small restaurants serve excellent mussels at affordable prices, delicious buns, aromatic coffee. The avenue allows you to see the life of ordinary Canadians and feel the atmosphere of Montreal.
Ville-Marie has picturesque streets called Montreal Village. Previously, they were unremarkable, but in the 1990s, the city authorities supported the local gay community, turning Les Villages into an exquisite tourist destination.
Today’s village is famous for its restaurants, clubs, bars, gay shops. Every summer, its main street turns into a pedestrian alley, decorated with pink balloons stretched overhead, flags and paper lanterns.
The main square in the Old Town is surrounded by beautiful palaces and administrative buildings. There is a small park within it.
In the middle stands a monument to Paul de Chaumedy-Maisonneuve. The founder of Montreal, raising the flag high with his right hand, is set on a high pedestal. Along the perimeter of the square there are benches and antique lanterns. In summer, small coffee shops and souvenir shops are open in the open air.
Place Jacques Cartier
The square, named after the French navigator Jacques Cartier, can be found near the city hall. The square pedestrian zone, paved with stone slabs, is a favorite place for tourists and locals to walk.
In the warm season, music sounds here, artists, cartoonists, musicians gather, cafes and flower tents work. The main architectural composition is the column dedicated to the British Admiral Nelson, installed on the square in 1809.
Old Seminary of Saint-Sulpice
The Seminary of 1688 reads as the oldest building in Montreal. This is a classic Renaissance palace, decorated with wide arches, high towers, and stucco. On the facade there is a clock created by the watchmaker Dauto.
The archives of the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice store rare books, manuscripts, iconographic documents, and maps. An orchard with lawns, alleys and statues has been planted in the monastic courtyard.
Château Ramezai, erected in 1705 as the residence of the governor, was sold after the death of the owner of the East India Company. Over the years, there were a court, office space, military headquarters, and a secondary school.
At the end of the last century, the city administration acquired the mansion and equipped it with a museum to store the archaeological and numismatic collections of the Montreal Historical Society. In the courtyard there is a French garden with a decorative park, a vegetable garden, and fruit trees. Spices and medicinal herbs are planted near the castle walls.
The neo-Renaissance town hall was erected in 1878. The majestic building was badly damaged by fire at the beginning of the last century. After the restoration, a stone floor appeared, and the appearance of the roof changed slightly.
Montreal City Hall is a National Historic Site of Canada. The building is occupied by the city administration. An exhibition hall is equipped on the ground floor, where you can find out information about the development of Montreal from the beginning of the last century to the present day.
Bank of Montreal
The neoclassical mansion, built in 1847 by architect John Wells, looks like the Roman Pantheon. The facade is decorated with a Corinthian colonnade and a triangular pediment. In the center of the pediment is a circle symbolizing the world of finance.
The interiors are decorated with wall paintings, gilded moldings, and marble statues. The financial institution has a museum that tells about the history of the creation of the national bank.
Notre Dame Basilica
The monumental Neo-Gothic basilica appeared on the site of an old dilapidated church in the 19th century. Its facade is decorated with lancet windows, arches and sculptures. Two seventy-meter bell towers are attached to it. The interior attracts with bright wall paintings, gilded statues, wooden figures of saints, and massive lamps.
Oratory of Saint Joseph
On Mont-Royal rises the oratory of St. Joseph. The granite temple in the style of the Italian Renaissance has a wide dome with a cross. The facade is decorated with Corinthian columns. The height of the building is 129 meters, so it is clearly visible from different parts of the city. A stone staircase leads to the main entrance.
The oratory is regularly visited by pilgrims. It is believed that prayer in the temple gives healing to the disabled. The truth of miracles was confirmed by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
Cathedral of Marie-Reine-du-Mont
The third largest church in Quebec is located next to Montreal Central Station. The building, erected at the direction of Bishop Ignace Bourget, replaced the basilica of St. Jean, which burned down in 1852. The exterior of the temple resembles St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The arches are painted with paintings depicting historical events in the days of the founding of Montreal. Sculptures of saints lined up along the walls. In the apse there is a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The western and eastern parts of the cathedral are decorated with texts from Scripture inscribed in gold letters.
Cathedral Church of Christ
The 19th-century neo-Gothic cathedral is modeled after ancient English churches and features a large intersecting tower with a light aluminum spire.
The height of the temple is 70 meters. Three organs are installed inside. Once a week there are concerts of classical and religious music. The Cathedral is the regimental church of the Grenadier Guards. The regimental banner and other regalia are kept in a place of honor in it.
Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours
The chapel on the rue Saint-Paul appeared in 1655 at the direction of Margaret Bourgeis. The oldest church in the city was rebuilt several times and changed its appearance. Now the rooms are finished with white marble with golden inserts, the shelves are painted with frescoes.
In front of the entrance above the gate rises the figure of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus. An ex-voto ship is suspended from the ceiling of the temple. It symbolizes the gratitude of sailors for a successful voyage. Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours is part of the Margaret Bourgeis Museum.
The historical museum in old Montreal introduces a collection of indigenous artifacts found during excavations in the vicinity of the city. The exhibitions illustrate how Indians interacted with French and British colonists and shed light on major periods in Montreal’s history.
The Pointe-a-Callier Museum is engaged in educational activities, holds cultural events, meetings with historians. In the lobby there are temporary exhibitions concerning international archeology, multiculturalism, and folk art.
Museum of Fine Arts
The largest art museum in Quebec holds 33,000 items. The collection includes paintings by old masters, contemporary canvases by Canadian and foreign artists, engravings, sculptures, rare fabrics, Japanese and English porcelain.
Among the exhibits of the museum exhibition are the masterpieces of El Greco, Andrea Mantegna, Nicolas Poussin, Maurice Cullen, James Ensor, Titian.
Modern Art Museum
Museum in downtown Montreal, dedicated to contemporary art, opened in 1964. 8 spacious halls are equipped with permanent and temporary exhibitions showing paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations.
During the tour, you can get acquainted with the work of Louise Bourgeois, Bill Viola, James Turrell, Victor Vasarely. The central place in the museum is occupied by the works of Paul-Emile Bordua.
McGill University has opened its doors to one of Canada’s oldest natural science museums. The expositions, housed in a Victorian mansion, introduce you to the flora and fauna of the region, tell about ancient civilizations and extinct animals.
- The paleontological collection contains fossil remains of dinosaurs and primitive people.
- In the department of mineralogy — pieces of meteorites, crystals and stones.
- In the halls of ethnology there are ancient Egyptian artifacts (painted sarcophagi, mummies, cuneiform tablets, jewelry, masks).
The Science Museum is located in the old port of Montreal. The modern glass and concrete building houses interactive exhibitions about technology and science. On the tour, children and adults will learn about ecology, the forces of nature, advanced technological achievements of mankind.
The scientific center systematically hosts master classes that teach the basics of physics and chemistry. Famous scientists often give lectures in the Information Studio.
Exhibition of Barbie dolls
The exhibition from the leading fashion designers guarantees a sea of positive emotions for the beautiful half of humanity. The exposition on Peel Street presents exclusive dolls dressed in clothes designed by Dior, Armani, Carolina Herrera, Christian Louboutin, Oscar De La Renta. Hundreds of collectible Barbies well illustrate the history of fashion and the development of this industry.
Parks and entertainment
Near Mont-Royal, there is a park named after the Canadian politician Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine. An extensive area planted with deciduous trees is an ideal place for hiking. There are two artificial lakes connected by a waterfall, cozy benches, playgrounds, sports equipment, cafes.
On the territory there are monuments to Lafontaine, Charles de Gaulle, Felix Leclerc, an amphitheater for 4 thousand seats, gazebos.
The botanical garden, founded in 1931 under the patronage of the City Hall, is considered a historical monument of Canada. On an area of 75 hectares there is a Japanese and Chinese garden, a rose garden, an arboretum, an English park, flower beds with orchids, rhododendrons, medicinal herbs.
Cacti, succulents, poisonous plants from different countries grow in indoor greenhouses. The Chinese garden is equipped with a man-made pond with ducks and turtles, a tea house, and a pavilion for relaxation.
For the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, a stadium was built, which has become an important landmark of the city. The huge arena resembles a ball with a rounded roof.
The architectural complex includes an inclined tower 175 meters high, from which a magnificent panorama of Montreal comes off. The site of the Olympic Stadium is used for music concerts, football matches, holidays.
Amusement Park La Rond
This park started operating in the middle of the last century and quickly became popular. In the green zone there are modern rides that take your breath away. It offers vacationers roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, vertical waterfalls, carousels for kids. The park has a cafe, tents with ice cream and soft drinks.
Super Aqua Club
25 km from Montreal, in the town of Pointe-Calume, a water park was built for active family holidays. It is a huge swimming pool with water attractions.
Visitors go down the slides, canoeing, air mattresses, go swimming. For the little ones, there is a special area with a shallow pool, a fountain, and water guns. Near the water there is a park with a playground, a cafeteria, a restaurant.
The futuristic steel building of the planetarium is located near the Olympic Stadium. In each of the two buildings, interactive exhibitions and interesting performances are regularly held. The program includes entertaining lectures on the solar system, black holes, the galaxy, and meteorites.
During the session, images of the starry sky, the sun, and the moon are displayed on multimedia screens. In the evenings, a beam of light with animations and 3D pictures is projected onto one of the outer walls of the planetarium to lure adults and children on a tour.