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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.
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.
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.
Built between 1827 and 1832 without the aid of powered machinery, the Rideau Canal is one of Ottawa's oldest landmarks. The canal runs from the Ottawa River near Parliament Hill to Hog's Back Falls on the south end of the city. During the summer months, a wide range of vessels, including tour boats, glide along the waterway. Come winter, the canal is transformed into the "World's Longest Skating Rink" and is a hub of activity during Ottawa's Winterlude festival.