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Fresh flowers often grace the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, an unnamed Canadian victim of the First World War. Towering above are 22 figures frozen in bronze as they rush forward into battle. Nurses, pilots, soldiers and sailors all represent tales of self-sacrifice and courage. Though prominently located in the busy downtown core, National War Memorial becomes the center of attention every November 11 at 11a, when the country marks Remembrance Day in honor of the men and women who paid the ultimate price for freedom.
Parliament Hill is the political heart of Canada. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Ottawa River, it is actually a collection of three turn-of-the-century Gothic structures known as the East Block, Centre Block and West Block. The West Block and East Block contain the offices of Members of Parliament. The House of Commons and the Senate are located in the Centre Block, with its soaring Peace Tower.
The Peace Tower dominates Parliament Hill, soaring over 90 meters (300 feet) high above Ottawa, while the Canadian flag unfurls gently over its topmost turret. A fine monument symbolic of the country's storied past, as well as a concrete tribute to lives lost in World War I, this Gothic Revival structure is iconic. It is within the tower's confines that the Memorial Chamber is housed, and at its cynosure is an impressive stone altar that holds the Book of Remembrance. The book features the names of the nearly 118,000 who succumbed to the war in an effort to serve the country. At the heart of the Peace Tower is a 53-bell carillon. The largest bell weighs over 10,000 kilograms (ten tons), while the smallest is only four kilograms (8.8 pounds)heavy. Etched onto the facade of the tower on all four sides, the fabled Peace Tower clock is yet another historic highlight, a friendly token gifted by the United Kingdom to Canada on the 60th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
Originally named Colonel's Hill in honor of Colonel John By, the architect of the Canal Rideau, this park was renamed after By was replaced by a Major. The park offers a panoramic view of several major attractions, including Parliament Hill, the Ottawa River, the Museum of Civilization, the National Gallery and Notre-Dame Basilica. It's also the location of Colonel By's original home, or at least its foundation, as well as a statue of the city's founding father. The park is located along MacKenzie Avenue, directly behind the Chateau Laurier Hotel. Visitors can enjoy picnicking at the park's well maintained picnic areas. Taking a walk amidst the lush greenery is not a bad idea either! Escape the hustle bustle of the city and enjoy some tranquil moments at this beautiful park.
Arguably one of the most beautiful structures in the nation's capital, the National Gallery of Canada is a striking mesh of fused glass and granite that is home to an impressive art collection. The entrance of the gallery is dominated by Louis Bourgeois' Maman, a gigantic arachnid sculpture that shelters its 26 marble eggs from prying eyes. Once inside the building, visitors proceed along a long, glass concourse with a vaulted ceiling that leads to the Great Hall. From the hall, visitors can access the gallery's many rooms, each associated with an artistic style or period. Home to nearly 40,000 works of art and an astounding collection of Canadian creations, the National Gallery of Canada is acknowledged as one of the most eminent institutions of fine art in the world. Some of the gallery's most soul-stirring and evocative pieces of art include the religious artwork of New France, the Group of Seven paintings, Inuit sculptures, and Andy Warhol's masterpieces, as well as paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Claude Monet.
An evening ghost walk is a fun way to learn more about Ottawa's history. Departing from D'Arcy McGee's Irish Pub on Sparks Street, the lantern-lit tour explores graveyards and old haunts during the 90-minute walk. Scary stories pertaining to historic landmarks are the only things that are going to jump out at you; there are no unexpected surprises en-route. The Haunted Walk is a great family night out. Wheelchairs are welcome, but some assistance getting over a few curbs may be necessary.
Built between 1839 and 1885, this neo-Gothic cathedral situated on Sussex Drive on the edge of the Byward Market is one of the oldest surviving churches in Ottawa. Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica's twin spires and gilded Madonna are easily identifiable from nearby Parliament Hill and the surrounding area. The interior of Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is brightly painted and decorated with carved features, exquisite stained glass windows and hundreds of statues of various religious figures. The church is open daily for guided tours and prayer.
Offering four, informative tours around the city, Ottawa Walking Tours are extremely popular with visitors. The draw card of the company is the Historical Highlights Walking Tour. Covering the history, architectural styles and present status of important historical landmarks like Parliament Hill, The Rideau Canal and Fairmont Chateau Laurier, the tour takes participants through a thorough visit of Ottawa’s Downtown Core neighborhood. You can also complement the tour by going on another one, called the Sussex Drive- Lowertown Walk. It explores the vibrant communities and their history and culture. Other tours include the Downtown Art Walk which is extremely popular with art lovers. Visitors get the chance to see a few displays of public art, learn about the artists and discuss its role in public life. They also have a special tour designed for elementary school students and allows children to get a glimpse into Canadian history while participating in various games and activities. Not only do the guides have vast-ranging knowledge of the places, people and events related to Ottawa and Canada, but they are also open to questions. Tours are available in three languages: English, French and Spanish and they can be customized to cater to your needs.
Nestled at the heart of the city, SAW Galerie is a must-visit for all art enthusiasts in town. This art gallery is known for showcasing the artworks of the local artists. Every art piece at this venue talks about the social and political situation of Canada, giving it a one-of-its-kind identity. There are also interactive multimedia exhibits unlike other art galleries. Besides, this venue has also been a host to several music performances regularly.
This unique shopping and restaurant district covers nearly 12 square blocks and offers something for everyone. You'll find trendy stores selling the latest in designer fashions, jewelry and artwork, as well as a variety of excellent restaurants. In the evening, the market is a buzz of activity as party-goers hop from nightclub to nightclub. To experience the true roots of ByWard Market, visit during the weekend when local farmers and artisans ply their wares near the Byward Market Building. The market is closed on Christmas and New Year's Day but is otherwise open during the summer and fall.
Royal Canadian Mint has been producing Canadian coinage since 1908. Although coins in circulation are now struck at the mint in Winnipeg, Manitoba, special commemorative coins, tokens and medallions are still created here. Take the popular and extremely interesting guided tour, offered alternately in French and English. Though the boutique is open from 9a to 6p, guided tours are only available from 10a to 5p.
A walk through this heritage building, which chronicles Canada's natural history, will take you back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the landscape and glaciers covered 80 percent of the country's landmass. Exhibits at Canadian Museum of Nature examine the country's biodiversity, the history of Canada's aboriginal people and life in the far north. One of its key highlights is the expansive Bird Gallery, which showcases more than 450 species of Canadian birds, apart from interactive and multimedia experiences.