One of the oldest cities in North America and the only walled city north of Mexico, Quebec is located on the St. Lawrence River. The city’s name Kébec (Quebec) is an Algonquin word meaning “where the river narrows”. Quebec’s old city was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in North America.
Boasting the largest francophone population outside of France, Quebec is a wonder for architectural enthusiasts. While the promontory serves as a natural fortress at the top of which Samuel de Champlain had Fort Saint-Louis built in 1620, the walls protect the city from would-be attackers. After the War of 1812, a star-shaped citadelle was built to provide more security and a residence for the Lt. Governor General.
The city is famous for its warm people, breathtaking vistas, and historic district on Cap Diamant (Cape Diamond). Along the famous promenade boardwalk, Dufferin Terrace, stands the most photographed hotel in the world, Chateau Frontenac. Located in the heart of the city, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company built Quebec City’s castle as it has been called in 1892-93. The hotel served as a war-time meeting place for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Mackenzie King, the Prime Minister of Canada during World War II. The 618 room hotel has recently unveiled the results of a multi-million dollar renovation project.
Upper Town’s Old City also offers a dramatic view of the St. Lawrence River and the surrounding countryside. A stroll along the bustling Rue St. Jean will reveal historic buildings, trendy cafes, boutiques, and majestic homes.
For C$2, you can ride the funicular and take in the 19th Century architectural marvels that line the streets. Stone walls, copper rooftops, and steepled churches demonstrate Upper Town’s position as the city’s cultural center.
The Hotel du Parlement (National Assembly) is striking in its Second Empire style referencing the type of architecture reserved for prestigious political and administrative buildings. The central clock tower and expansive design remind visitors of the work taking place inside while the adjacent outdoor fountain, Fontaine de Tourny, is a traditional and creative spot. The reverence to the city’s religious roots cannot be denied when visiting the Roman Catholic basilica, Notre Dame du Quebec, the seat of the local Archdiocese. Designed by Jean Baillairge and his son Francoise who revisited the architectural project that began in1633 and gave the basilica a decidedly Neo-Classical feel.
Quebec is a walkable, sophisticated city rich in history and full of contemporary attractions. The architecture dots the landscape and documents this Canadian city’s fascinating background from the early settlers of the 1500s to the intellectuals of today.