The star attraction of beautiful Old Montreal (or Vieux-Montreal in the local lingo) is without a doubt the visually stunning Notre Dame Basilica. Two impressive bell towers crown the basilica, which was built in the Gothic Revival style from 1824 to 1829. But even as striking as the edifice’s exterior is, just wait until you step inside the arched entrance – it’ll really knock your socks off.
Perhaps it’s the carved wooden columns with intricate gilded details that soar up to the blue-arched ceiling embracing a blanket of gold stars. Or maybe it’s the mesmerising altarpiece with the pine-sculpted statues that depict an array of religious scenes from the Old Testament. Then there’s the pulpit, in all of its ornamental and finely carved glory, with its curving staircase where, in times past, the priest would ascend to deliver his sermon. The proverbial candle on this extravagant cake is the masterful lighting throughout the basilica that illuminates and unites its many intricate details in a kaleidoscope of breathtaking colour.
The commanding Casavant organ that towers over the choir loft consists of a mind-boggling 7,000 pipes, the largest standing at 10 metres tall. Nestled within the basilica is also the charming Chapelle du Sacré Coeur, also known as ‘the wedding chapel’. Approximately 100 weddings take place every year at the basilica. (Songstress Celine Dion is one of the many who’ve tied the knot here.)
You’ll find the Notre Dame Basilica in historic Old Montreal. Admission includes an educational 20-minute guided tour. Take the Metro Orange Line to Place-d’Armes Station, take the Saint-Urbain Street exit and head uphill towards Place-D’Armes Square. After you visit the basilica, take a walk down nearby Rue Saint-Paul. This main artery of Old Montreal teems with restaurants, galleries, boutiques and atmosphere.