Montreal - Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal) on TransCanadaHighway.com
In the 1680s, Montreal was surrounded by Stone fortifications, along present day McGill and Notre Dame, which were removed by 1817 to allow the city to expand. This part of Montreal retains the old streets, and was the commercial and financial hub of the city, causing banks and insurance companies to build their headquarters there and demolish almost all buildings that existed under the French. After 40 years, the area lost favour as the city's downtown shifted to its current location. The old buildings fell into disrepair and underwent a renewal about the time of Expo 67. Today he area is alive with restaurants, sidewalk cafes, bars galleries and shops. The Vieux Monteral is served by three Metro stations: Place d'Armes, Victoria Square, and Champs-de-mars.
The Vieux-Port (Old Port) stretches for 2.5km (1.5mi) along the river with four quays: the Vieux-Port Promenade and Esplanade, popular for strolling; the Quai de l'Horloge, with its monument to sailors; and the Quai Jacques-Cartier, from which a ferry runs to the Parc des Îles, the park created on the site of the 1967 World's Fair. Île Sainte-Hélène is home to Québec's largest amusement park and the Biosphere showcasing the St Lawrence ecosystem, and nieghbouring Île Notre-Dame is an artificial island created for the fair in the middle of the river.
The focal point of Vieux Montréal is Place Jacques Cartier, originally a public market space in 1803. Nearby, the charming Place d'Armes features the magnificent 1829 Basilica Notre Dame, which holds 5000 people in a richly detailed interior which includes the Chapelle du Sacré Couer (Sacred Heart Chapel).
In the west end of Vieux Montréal is the Place Royale, the location of Ville Marie, Montréal's first small fort town, which became a marketplace and is now adjoins the Veille Douane (Old Customs House) and the Pointe à Callière Museum of Archaeology & History.
174 Notre-Dame Street East
Montréal, Québec, Canada
(514) 873-2015 Toll Free: 1 877 BONJOUR (266-5687)
Website: www.old.montreal.qc.ca Tourist Information Bureau of Montréal: April 4 to June 3: daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 4 to September 6: daily, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; September 7 to October 31: daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 1 to march 31, Wednesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Streets & Places
Champ de Mars
Saint-Antoine Street (corner of Gosford)
This huge public expanse surrounded by tree offers a superb view of downtown Montréal and its history. The two lines of stone running across the surface like a double backbone are a rare physical indication of the original fortified town of Ville Marie.
Built at the end of the 1600s, Place d'Armes has become a very prestigious address in Montréal, surrounded by buildings that are mementos of the city's major historical milestones. The 1895 statue of Paul de Chomedey, "Sieur de Maisonneuve", the founder of Montréal, stands in the centre.
The Saint-Pierre riverbed was canalized in 1832, and since built over to provide an amazing historical overview. An obelisk is symbolic of the early settlers. Nearby (between Saint-Pierre and Normand Streets) is the old Grey Nuns Hospital, the oldest part of which dates back to 1693. The buildings near the port, date from the 1870s to the early 20th century, show the evolution of Montreal as a major business hub.
Place Jacques-Cartier and Place De La Dauversière
A major gathering place and entertainment site in Old Montréal since 1804, surrounded with Victorian street lamp and a a great view of the Old Port from the 1809 Nelson monument. Place Jacques-Cartier attracts crowds with its street artists, roving entertainers, jugglers, mimes, face painters and caricaturists. A flower market and sidewalk cafés and lively restaurants around the square provide a round-the-clock festive atmosphere. Built on the old site of Château de Vaudreuil, Place Jacques-Cartier was used as a public market for many years and is surrounded by hotels and commercial structures of the 1850s and 60s. Facing City Hall, Place De La Dauversière is a magnificent public garden restored in 1997.
The 17th and 18th century marketplace was located here. Pointe-à-Callière (to the southwest), is a very contemporary Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, with an underground archeological circuit linking to the Old Customs House.
Sainte-Hélène and Des Récollets Streets
Place-d'Armes / Square-Victoria METRO
One of the most beautiful Victorian business districts in North America. Graceful greystone façades that warehouse-salesrooms, dating from the 1850s to the 1880s, for import and retail businesses.
Saint-Jacques Street and The Royal Bank
360 Saint-Jacques Street
This street was also known as Canada's "Wall Street" in the 1920s, with the 100 Billion dollar (assets) Royal Bank's 1928 head office next to the attractive 1866 Molson Bank building. At 23 storeys, it was the tallest building in the British Empire when built.
Saint-Paul and de la Commune Streets
Place-d'Armes / Champ-de-Mars METRO
For years, Saint-Paul Street was Montréal's main street, with many 19th century warehouses recently renovated to serve as boutiques, artists' studios, homes. There are restaurants serving traditional Québécois fare, hopping nightclubs and jazz clubs, and art galleries taking advantage of the ambiance of the cobblestone road (particularly east of Saint-Laurent Boulevard) and horse-drawn carriages.
Corner of Viger Avenue and Beaver Hall Hill
The Square was named after Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and features an 1872 monument dedicated to the illustrious monarch by British sculptor Marshall Wood. The entrance to the métro station bears an authentic Paris métro railing with an Art Nouveau casting designed by Hector Grimard in 1900, whichwas given to Montreal by the City of Paris, on the occasion of the 1967 World Exhibition.
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