The Montreal ten
Montreal is the country’s French-speaking cultural and artistic heart. The city hosts many summer festivals and is home to the globally renowned Cirque du Soleil, which always guarantees mind-boggling entertainment. Here are ten must-sees.
By: Julia Henríquez
Photos: Javier Pinzón
1. Old Montreal
Seventeenth century cobblestone streets, and breathtaking French architecture. This neighborhood is the cornerstone of the city of Montreal and serves as its historic center. Far from being forgotten, the old Montreal of today shines, attracting visitors and residents alike to its restaurants, museums, galleries, and markets. Plaza Jacques Cartier, for example, comes to life in the summer, becoming a pedestrian zone you won’t want to miss.
2. Notre-Dame Basilica
This ecclesiastical museum and self-contained work of art began being built in 1824. The neo-Gothic style, the impressive woodwork, the bell towers, and the majestic altar make the Basilica an unforgettable part of old Montreal. AURA, a light and music show staged inside the church, takes the experience to another level.
3. St. Joseph’s Oratory
Set amidst magnificent gardens, St. Joseph’s Oratory, like the Basilica, has become more than a sacred shrine. Visitors enjoy the colorful flower gardens, a wooded natural reserve, and piano concerts in this Renaissance-style Catholic church.
4. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Opened in 1860 by the Art Association of Montreal, the Museum of Fine Arts is Canada’s most popular art museum. The museum’s vast spaces and its ever-evolving contents give it a life of its own as it constantly seeks to innovate and democratize art and culture
It currently houses more than 45,000 pieces including paintings, photographs, decorative items and other expressions of art that are regularly added to this treasure trove of culture. In addition to presenting permanent and temporary exhibits, the museum organizes special activities of all kinds.
5. Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park, a green lung and meeting place that is the pride of the city, consists of three mountains that were once linked by a now-extinct glacier. McGill University was founded here in 1821, and the park is now home to other institutions of higher education as well. In 1872, the city of Montreal, purchased the park’s 692 acres to protect its biodiversity and ensure that this urban lung would survive.
6. Lachine Canal
The 8.3-mile route from the new port to the old —passing over the Lachine Canal— is perfect for a bike ride. You can take a boat along the canal and luxuriate in the lovely weather, amble among the bars and shops, or simply admire the scenery. You might want to end your day in the old port. You can ascend some 200 feet in a glass-bottomed gondola with tempered glass panes to enjoy the gorgeous panoramic view of the city. We are, of course, talking about the iconic Montreal Observation Wheel.
Futher informationhttps://www.lagranderouedemontr eal.com/ es/about
7. Park Jean-Drapeau
Located on two islands across from the port, this park is dedicated to the environment, conservation, and healthy recreation on both land and water. The park offers eco-tours, yoga classes, art exhibits, paddle boarding, walking paths, bike rides, canoeing, kayaking, and of course, the gigantic, jaw-dropping Biosphere museum. In winter, when snow lays a white blanket over the greenery, it’s time to get out the sleds and skates. Good times continue even in the cold.
8. Botanical Garden
Despite the Great Depression, local elections, and World War II, a visionary managed to achieve his dream of creating a botanical garden in central Montreal. During the 1960s and 1970s, research, the growing economy, and a partnership with the University of Montreal set the Garden on the right path, including continuing expansion of the greenhouses. The Garden houses a collection of 22,000 species of plants and flowers, ten greenhouses of exhibits, and more than twenty themed gardens scattered around the Garden’s 185.3 acres.
The Montreal Biodome lets you experience five types of ecosystems under one roof. The dome was originally built as a velodrome for the 1976 Olympic Games; however, to commemorate the city’s 350th anniversary in 1989, it was converted into the Biodome or Space for Life. Heedless of summer sunshine or winter cold, visitors to the Biodome can stroll through the tropical rainforests of the Americas and the Laurentian maple forest, walk along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Labrador coast, and explore sub-Antarctic islands.
10. Place des Arts
Known also as the Quartier des Spectacles (Entertainment District), Place des Arts is home to the Montreal Symphonic Orchestra, the Metropolitan Orchestra, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and the Opera of Montreal. The district hosts major festivals, cultural events, and popular activities all year round, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Les Francofolies, Just for Laughs, Montréal en Lumière, and the Grand Marché at Christmas.
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