Top Landmarks in Montreal

Montreal Quebec, Canada is a city steeped in history with a history of human inhabitants that stretches back approximately 8,000 years. Montreal became a very important port city and was known around the world. It’s no surprise that the city of Montreal established some very noteworthy landmarks that are popular with tourists and locals alike.

Lachine Canal

The Lachine Canal created a direct entry point to the Atlantic Ocean, opening the port in Montreal to a huge amount of shipping traffic from around the world. In addition to opening the port the Lachine Canal has been used to supply hydraulic power and it’s also served as a hub for the manufacturing industry. The canal and surrounding area are have undergone a number of redevelopment phases throughout its history, the most recent one is still underway and designed to turn the area into a recreation zone for boaters, runners and walkers, bikers, picnickers and those looking to take a boat tour of the area.

Montreal Place des Arts

The Place des Arts in Montreal is the major performing arts center in Montreal. It’s the home to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens, and the Opera de Montreal. With five different theaters each hosting unique production and with its own characteristics you’re bound to find a production that fits your tastes or that inspires you to go outside your boundaries. Another highlight located in the Montreal Place des Arts is the Musee d’art  Contemporain de Montreal.

Montreal Theatre St. Denis

Montreal Place des Arts is not the only theater of note in Montreal, the Montreal Theatre St. Denis is smaller but sometimes intimacy matters. Located in the Latin Quarter this area is populated by students from the Universite de Montreal and an interesting hipster crowd.  The theater productions reflect this and have a more contemporary tone than the Place des Arts and then to be a little more reasonably priced.

Notre-Dame Basilica Montreal

Long before this region was called Montreal it was known as Ville-Marie and in the center of town was a tiny chapel initially run by the Jesuits then later the Sulpician Fathers who decided to turn it into a much larger Baroque style church. Although dramatically enlarged the church was still too small for the area and a gigantic gothic revival church which became known as the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. But almost unbelievably this church was still not large enough and a new chapel was added in 1889. Unfortunately must of the original structure was destroyed in a fire in 1978 but what remains and has been rebuilt is still incredible and for a small fee you can get a brief guided tour of the Basilica and then explore at your leisure unless a service is in progress.

Olympic Park/Biodome

Olympic Park and Biodome was constructed specifically for the 1976 summer Olympic games and after it served its purpose it was transformed and now hosts concerts and the Montreal Expo’s baseball games. Rising above Olympic Park is the main stadium tower which reaches up 575 feet and is the tallest inclined tower in the entire world. The views from the observation decks on the tower are amazing and you get to ride in a funicular to reach them. The other highlight of the Olympic Park is the Biodome which is the largest in the world and is a must see attraction. Within the Biodome are five different ecosystems to explore, the Tropical Forest, Laurentian Forest, Saint-Lawrence Marine Ecosystem, Arctic and Antarctic.

Saint Josephs Oratory of Mount Royal

Another religious landmark in Montreal is the Saint Josephs Oratory of Mount Royal. Brother Andre was born Alfred Besette in 1845 and by his 25th birthday had joined the Holy Cross Order. One of Brother Andre’s duties was to administer to sick students at the College Notre-Dame in Montreal, it was while performing these tasks that he earned a reputation for miraculous healings through his prayers to Saint Joseph. By 1904 he was drawing such a crowd that he worked to raise $200 and build a 15 x 18 foot building. In 1955, after Brother Andre’s death, a proper shrine to Saint Joseph was constructed and the Saint Josephs Oratory still draws quite a crowd. The Italian Renaissance style is used by a bit overblown by the large building. In fact the dome is the second largest in the world with only St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome besting it. In addition to the beautiful architecture and museum quality art pieces throughout you can also get a glimpse of Brother Andre’s embalmed heart in a museum dedicated to his life’s work.

Vieux Montreal/Old Montreal

The oldest section of the city of Montreal is called Old Montreal but its official name is Vieux Montreal. Some of the buildings in this section of the city date back to the 1600s. One of the most noted sites in the region is the Notre-Dame Basilica. Near the Notre-Dame Basilica is the Saint-Sulpice Seminary, the oldest existing building in Montreal. You can also visit the City Hall, Bonsecours Market, financial institutions, and some preserved mansions. In the southwest region of Old Montreal are the archeological remains of Montreal’s first town. To bring more authenticity to this incredible section of the city the buildings have not only been maintained but many have been authentically restored and the cobbled streets have been restored. The cobbled streets are even more romantically authentic when you hear the horse drawn caliches clatter up and down them throughout the day.

Montreal is an incredible city to visit as its history has affected not only Montreal and the surrounding area but all of North America. This port city has always been a thriving hub of activity and its incredible landmarks have preserved some of that culture and history for following generations to experience and explore.

Creative Commons License Photo credit: Michel Filion