Notre-Dame's twin towers have served as an Old Montreal landmark since the Neo-Gothic basilica was finished in 1829. Today they continue to be the focal point, where tourists disgorge from buses and calèche drivers line up for passengers. The interior glows with gilded statuary and gold-leafed fleurs de lys, and is home to one of the largest pipe organs in the world. The Montreal Symphony Orchestra performs its Christmas production of Messiah here at the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal or the Notre-Dame Basilica. Check website for opening hours for visitors.
Plans for the construction of the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral first began in 1852, soon after Saint-Jacques Cathedral was destroyed by fire. At the behest of Ignace Bourget, the architect Victor Bourgeau was assigned the ambitious task of designing a cathedral in the image of the magnificent St Peter's Basilica in Rome. The architectural masterpiece was completed in 1894 and is renown today as one of Quebec's most revered religious sites. Inside a spectacular baldachin adorns the altar and elaborate paintings depict the early history of Montreal, while outside exquisitely wrought statues of the city's 13 patron saints watch over the people, replacing the 12 statues of Christ's apostles that adorn the exterior walls of St Peter's Basilica. The cathedral remains a sacred place of worship even as it attracts droves of tourists who are drawn to its austere beauty and artistic treasures.
Musée des Beaux-arts de Montréal has put together one of the best collections of fine art in North America. The museum moved to its present location just before the World War. The Jean-Noel Desmarais building holds most of the temporary exhibits while the permanent collection lies in the Benaiah Gibb building across the street. The museum also stages special programs such as Wednesday evening lectures, noontime and evening concerts, and films.
Built on the site where the city's founders first landed, this history and archaeology museum opened exactly 350 years after the event, in 1992. Pointe-à-Callière Museum stands on the remains of original historical buildings, and parts of the old fortification walls are on display. It features a multimedia show and an underground archaeological tour, along with various temporary exhibits. Highlights include the triangular Éperon Building, the former Customs House, and Place Royale. Kids will especially enjoy learning first hand what it means to be an archaeologist in a fun engaging manner with the engaging Archaeo-Adventure Exhibition, while the Pirates or Privateers exhibition will thrill them as they learn about life on the High-seas. With plenty of events and activities, the museum is a true cultural hub in the city.
Biosphere museum and exhibition hall is dedicated to raising environmental and ecological awareness among its visitors. Housed in the world's largest geodesic dome, which is one of few remaining structures from the Expo's, it offers four levels of guided discovery. The bottom level examines water as both Source of Life and Source of Delight, the Connections Hall showcases multimedia presentations focusing on environmental protection, and the Visions Hall affords an incredible view of Montreal.
Housed in what was once McGill University's student union building, McCord Museum was born in 1921 - the vision of passionate collector David Ross McCord. Today it houses almost 900,000 objects consisting of ethnological and archaeological materials, costumes and textiles, photographs, paintings, prints, drawings and decorative arts, all related to Canadian social and cultural history. The museum offers interactive animation exhibitions, guided tours and publications. Stop into the boutique for native Canadian arts and crafts, fine china, pottery, jewelry, posters, exhibition catalogs and greetings cards.
Once the residence of Governor Claude de Ramezay, Château Ramezay Museum chronicles the rich history of Montreal. The history of this building dates back to the 18th Century when it was built and has been listed as an must-see historic sites by UNESCO. Now, it houses an impressive collection of antiques, photographs, paintings and costumes. This site is known for its frequent exhibitions from upcoming and veteran artists and has two permanent exhibitions.
If you are looking for something other than the ordinary run-of-the-mill sightseeing tours, then consider the Old Montreal Ghost Trail. A historical mystery tour set in Montreal's French colonial days, the tour includes some of the city's most famous ghosts. Other tours include the New France Ghost Hunt and Montreal's Historical Crime Scenes. Tours are in both English and French.
Maple Delights is a charming spot and a must visit if in Old Montreal. This sweet bistro and museum is a wonderful way to discover this national pride. At the bistro you can relish delish baked goodies, gelatos, candies, waffles, milkshakes, coffees and sorbets, all with the goodness of maple syrup and sugar in them. Check out their small museum that gives an insight of how the sap is collected. You can also taste the products made from maple that highlight its unique quality.
The Rue Saint-Paul is named in the honor of Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Canada's governor. This street has the charm of Old Montreal and is known for attractions like Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel and Bonsecours Market.
The Notre-Dame Street is a historic street running parallel to Saint Lawrence River. This beautiful street dates back to 1672, and has the prestigious city hall located on it. The street also used to have the Château Vaudreuil, Dominion Park and Montreal's Citadel.
Saint Jacques Street or the St. James Street has been an important street of the city since its opening in 1672. In different eras, this street has always been the financial center of the city owing to the buildings of various companies built here. Insurance, banking, utility companies, you name it and the sector was present. Montreal City and District Savings Bank, Canadian Pacific Express, Royal Bank of Canada, New York Life Insurance Company and many other esteemed companies were or still a part of the Saint Jacques Street.