Bordered by the St. Lawrence River, Old Québec or Vieux-Québec is the historic heart of the modern day City of Quebec. Divided into two distinct parts, the Upper Town and Lower Town, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a gateway into the history of the province. The Upper Town is set atop the Cap Diamant and is the city's historic administrative and military hub. Its most iconic landmark, the Citadelle with its star shaped design is an arresting edifice while the Chateau Frontenac is a mesmerizing vision of Victorian grandeur. The Upper Town is also one of the sites of the Carnaval de Quebec, considered to be among the largest winter festivals on the globe. The Lower Town, at the base of the mount, is the livelier of the two with a bustling market and vibrant Old Port. Amid hundreds of historic buildings, tourist attractions, pubs and restaurants lie dozens of boutiques, galleries, souvenir shops and other distinctive establishments. The Church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is another of Old Québec's many treasures.
Place Royale is a collection of buildings and narrow streets born in 1608 when explorer Samuel de Champlain established a secure fur trading post. It changed hands between the British and French, surviving fires and battles and eventually became Quebec City's version of "downtown." After a complete restoration, Place Royale is now the city's most picturesque place, sporting restaurants and cafes, as well as many tourist attractions. Be sure to visit the Maison Chevalier, the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church and the Interpretive Center.
A star-shaped enclosed fortification located atop the promontory of Cap Diamant, the Citadelle of Quebec contains 300 years of military history within its stone-cut Vauban walls. Constructed out of sandstone between 1820 and 1850, this grand British fortress rests on four bastions and three curtain walls and comprises of 24 buildings. The citadel is popularly known as the Gibraltar of America, and is the official residence of the Canadian monarch and the Governor-General of Canada, besides also functioning as an active military structure. Owing to its longstanding military association, the Royal 22e Régiment of the Canadian Forces is stationed here. One of the most significant landmarks of Quebec, the Citadelle of Quebec invites droves of tourists to take a guided tour of the fortress and the museum, witness the awe-inspiring changing of the guard and enjoy sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River from its historic ramparts.
Dating back to the year 1647 and replacing a former chapel, the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec is a listed World Heritage Church and the first of its kind to be elevated to the rank of minor basilica. The church is a fine example of Neo-classical architecture and its interior was designed by Jean Baillairgé. A tour to the cathedral would take you through the main features of the cathedral that includes the stained glass windows, paintings and the tomb of Quebec's first bishop, François de Laval.
History, which is everywhere in the city, is most evident in its beautifully preserved fortifications that date from the early 17th Century. As the only remaining walled city in North America, Quebec has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors are free to walk along the nearly five kilometers (3.10 miles) of walls witnessing the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site. The interpretation center offers an intriguing look into the military and architectural design features. Guided walking tours offer further insights.
Constructed in the late 19th Century in an atypical Second Empire style, this preeminent landmark oversees Quebec's parliamentary proceedings in the province's capital city. Every bit as impressive as its counterparts in other provinces, Quebec City's Parliament Building bears a striking resemblance to another North American monument - the Philadelphia City Hall. The building comprises of four distinct wings that forge a square spanning nearly 100 meters (328 feet) on each side. While the building is home to the revered National Assembly Chamber and the National Assembly Library, hours can be spent admiring the remarkable edifice itself, which has more than 25 statues of notable figures built into its facade. The immaculately landscaped grounds of the structure are another marvelous feature, replete with fountains and well-maintained gardens.
Built in 1847, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church is one of the most significant attractions of this part of the city, and in fact, the entire neighborhood is named after this monumental structure. The church was damaged in 1881, when a major fire swept through the city, but was reconstructed in 1884 by Joseph-Ferdinanad Peachy, in grandeur comparable to the original structure, in the Second Empire style of architecture. The church is active to this day and holds services on a regular basis.
One of the oldest areas in the city, Lower Town or Basse-Ville has a history that dates back to the city's formation, and together with the Upper Town, makes up Old Quebec. Flanked by the Saint-Charles river on one side, Lower Town is haven for history enthusiasts, with a rich repository of historic buildings and architectural gems. Besides getting a feel of the city's origins, visitors can also experience the city's culture at the Musee de la Civilisation and Theatre Petit Champlain. The picturesque funicular ride to Cap Diamant is highly recommended.
Edifice Marie Guyart is the tallest building in Quebec. 31 storeys high, it houses the Observatoire de la Capitale on the top most floor. The Edifice Marie Guyart is a commercial building and was constructed during the 1960s. The building is also known as Complex G and was named Edifice Marie Guyart in honor of Marie de l'Incarnation. The building serves as an important landmark because it houses notable ministry offices of Quebec. It is a must visit because of the panoramic views that if offers from its higher floors.
There may be no better view of the city than that from 725 feet (221 meters) above sea level, which is why this observatory is a great place to discover Quebec City. Located on top of the Marie-Guyart Building, the Observatoire de la Capitale has an interesting interpretation center where visitors can learn about the history of Quebec City on urban, industrial, maritime, architectural, political and geographical levels. Guided visits are offered daily.
The Grande Allée Drill Hall National Historic Site of Canada is located in the city of Quebec, in the province by the same name. Constructed as a military drill hall for the infantry regiment Les Voltigeurs de Québec in 1885, this structure was designed by Eugène-Étienne Taché. The armory is designed in Gothic Revival style of architecture along with some Chateau style influences as well. A fire partially destroyed this National Historic Site of Canada in 2007 and it is in the process of being restored. Several sculptures and monuments line the gardens around the armory as well.