Passion and pride run as deep as the waters around this stylish, bilingual
island city. Founded on religious zeal and a mountain of skinned animals,
Montreal has seen its fair share of bloodshed, but these days the battle between
French and English is left to the increasingly sluggish referendum ballot.
Dubbed one of the world's most livable cities, Montreal's charm lies in its
relaxed atmosphere rather than its star attractions, and a quiet amble can be as
memorable as a visit to the sights. The city is named for park-covered Mont
Royal, a striking 232m (760ft) geological structure that's often mistaken
for an extict vocano, which towers over the city's central neighborhoods.
The city's downtown boasts a stash of churches and some fine museums focusing on
Amerindian art, history, architecture and stuffed animals.
Roger Taillibert's magnificent building takes a beating in the court of public
opinion, but it remains Montreal's most stunning architectural achievement. The
enormous bowl features a perpetually disintegrating roof that was originally
meant to be retractable, while the inclined tower affords an incredible view
over the city.
French tours at 11am and 2pm daily; in English at 12:40pm and 3:40pm daily:
CAD5.50 Adults; CAD5 Seniors; CAD4.25 Children and Students. The tower and its
observatory are accessible by cable car at CAD10 Adults; CAD7.50 Students and
Seniors; CAD5 Children.
Notre-Dame's twin towers have served as an Old Montreal
landmark since the neo-Gothic basilica was finished in 1829. Today they continue
to be the focal point, where tourists disgorge from buses and caleche drivers
line up for passengers. The interior glows with gilded statuary and gold-leafed
fleurs de lys, and is home to one of the largest pipe organs in the world. The
Montreal Symphony Orchestra performs its Christmas production
of Messiah here. Admission is free.
This museum and exhibition hall is dedicated to raising environmental and
ecological awareness among its visitors. Housed in the world's largest geodesic
dome, which is one of few remaining structures from Expo '67, it offers four
levels of guided discovery. The bottom level examines water as both "Source of
Life" and "Source of Delight;" the Connections Hall showcases multimedia
presentations focusing on environmental protection; and the Visions Hall affords
an incredible 360 degree view of Montreal.
Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)
Housed in a much-lauded modern building and the 125-year-old Shaughnessy House,
this museum offers fascinating glimpses into architecture, urban design and more
esoteric fields (a recent exhibit focused on the American Lawn). Permanent
collections include the sketches, plans and photographs of famous architects and
buildings. The museum frequently plays host to premiere touring exhibits, which
have in the past included Mies [van der Rohe] in America, adn John
The historic city centre is rich in museums, shops, restaurants and grey stone
architecture spread out along narrow, cobblestone streets. It is also home to
the Vieux Port attractions and lively public squares like
Place Jacques-Cartier. Exploring Old Montreal means exploring
the very heart of one of North America's greatest cities, a multi-faceted place
where the past and the present come together in exciting and unexpected ways.
Major attractions include City Hall (275 Notre-Dame St E), and the Old Customs
House (400 Place d'Youville, featured in "The Score").