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.
Parc de la Chute-Montmorency offers a multitude of activities for the entire family. In the summer, walk across one of two suspension bridges or through miles of parkland trails before enjoying a gourmet meal at the Manoir Montmorency. Winter can be just as relaxing, though daredevils can take an ice climbing course on the frozen waterfall wall of ice and snow. The park is located just east of Quebec City along Avenue Royale. Admission to the park is free but parking is charged.
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.
Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge was once the residence of the Lieutenant Governors of Quebec, but post a fire accident in 1966 the place has been converted into a public garden. This historic garden in Quebec offers tourists a wonderful refuge among colorful flowers and soothing shade under maple, white spruce and oak trees. The garden offers a variety of activities for the visitors ranging from cycling around the park to walking areas, horticultural visits etc.
Located in the Battlefields Park, there are four Martello Towers to provide protection for Quebec City from the western end. Built between 1808 and 1812, the hard-walled, defense towers were established under the leadership of James Craig. The thick walls provided the much-needed fortification from the artillery fire. Although they were rendered useless in the 1860s, Martello Tower 1 remains open to visitors during summer.
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.
With a history dating back to 1772, Cimetiere Saint Matthew is one of the oldest cemeteries in the city. Some of the city's earliest natives and prominent citizens are believed to have been buried at the cemetery. Visitors can check out the historic tombstones and read up on the history in the nearby library, which is housed in a church. Audio tours of the facility offer an insight into the prominent tombstones within the cemetery, and are recommended.