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Historic Buildings Walking Tour (Self Guided), Montreal

Montreal is an old, but a very modern city. The architectural sights provide ample opportunities for exploration. Modern buildings are situated right next to some of the oldest and most fascinating structures. Take this walking tour to discover the most famous architecture Montreal has to offer.
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Historic Buildings Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Historic Buildings Walking Tour
Guide Location: Canada » Montreal (See other walking tours in Montreal)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Bonsecours Market
  • City Hall
  • Notre-Dame Basilica
  • Saint-Sulpice Seminary
  • Centre d'Histoire de Montreal
  • Molson Bank
  • The Bay
  • Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde
  • Sun Life Building
  • Windsor Station
1
Bonsecours Market

1) Bonsecours Market

What to buy here: Artisan Jewelry.

Quebeckers have a long history of working with their hands, ever since the first settlements in the 17th century, whether they were carpenters, painters, cooks or jewelers. This heritage is still very strong today and results in beautiful local works of art, always made with love by expert artisans, and jewelry being the prevalent industry. With the ever growing popularity of certified Canadian diamonds, which are mined, cut and polished in the Northwest Territories of Canada, it’s only natural that this trend has inspired the artisan-jewelers of Montreal, offering a few hand-made and unique items. Rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, there is certainly something perfect for a special someone – and nothing says “from Canada with love” like a certified diamond! The best place to get your hands on such coveted treasures is at the Bonsecours Market (350 Saint-Paul Street East, opening hours vary) in Old-Montreal, the local artisans’ Mecca. Obviously, these treasures come with a salty bill, but an exceptional piece of diamond jewelry is a priceless and timeless souvenir.
2
City Hall

2) City Hall

Montreal City Hall is a five-storied flashy building exclusively constructed to house the municipal administration. Built in the second empire style, it is one of the most impressive and spectacular buildings in Old Montreal. It was constructed between 1872 and 1878 as per the designs suggested by architects Alexander Cowper Hutchison and Henri-Maurice Perrault. This building survived a major fire break in 1922 after which architect Louis Parant completely remodeled the same with more robust construction.

The exterior of the building is decorated with attractive turrets, balconies and mansard roofs. You can enjoy an amazing sight of the building in the evenings when it is completely illumined with hundreds of bulbs. The interior is decorated with elegant and exquisite art pieces collected from all over the world. The marble flooring, hand-carved ceiling, stained-glass windows, decorative lampshades and a huge bronze and glass chandelier add to the glamor and beauty of the hall. The hall of honor is very interesting as it displays portraits of all the mayors who have held office.

As opposed to many government buildings where public entry is restricted, Montreal City Hall permits visitors to take a quick 15-minute tour.

Tip:
Just walk into the City Hall and you'll be given a free tour of the building. There are a handful of tours to choose from, with the schedules clearly visible when you walk in.
Tours are both in French or English, so check the schedule for the language you need.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8:30am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Notre-Dame Basilica

3) Notre-Dame Basilica (must see)

Notre-Dame Basilica is renowned for its lavish, colorful and enticing interiors. It is a stunning example of Gothic Revival style architecture. It took years to complete this majestic structure. The original church was demolished in 1830 and was reconstructed.

The interiors are carved from gilded and painted rare woods. The imported glass windows expertly depict the rich history of Montreal as compared to other churches here where you will only find biblical scenes. The ceiling is deep blue in color and decorated with golden stars. Interior walls of this Basilica are painted in sky blue color offering a stunning effect. Look around and you feel like you are standing under the vast open sky. The impressive paintings, religious statues, exquisite wooden carvings, rich altar and appealing stained glass windows are some of the notable features of this basilica. The 10 bells that toll on special occasions cast a spell on the worshipers. This church was designed by Irish-American architect James O'Donnell.

Pope John Paul II was instrumental in raising the status of Notre-Dame church to a basilica in 1982. This church was also declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989.

Notre-Dame Basilica has witnessed several grand weddings and funerals of eminent personalities. If you plan on visiting Notre-Dame, do not miss the live concerts in the basilica.

Tip:
The 'AURA' light show (presented usually at 7 and 9pm) is exceptional but sometimes full so plan your visit: you can book your ticket online or come early before the show timing. Try sitting somewhere in the middle of the basilica – between 50-70% from the front, and more towards the middle to get the best music & light experience.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-4:30pm; Sat: 8am-4pm; Sun: 12:30pm-4pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Saint-Sulpice Seminary

4) Saint-Sulpice Seminary

The Saint-Sulpice Seminary is the second oldest structure in Montreal and was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980. It is located in the Ville-Marie Borough in the Old Montreal district, next to Notre-Dame Basilica. The seminary is a classic U-shaped building featuring a palatial style and includes an annex.

The façade of the building is adorned with a clock, constructed and installed in 1701, near the top. The clock’s dial was created in Paris, engraved by Paul Labrosse and gilded by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame. The clock is one of the oldest of its kind in North America.

Following a monastic tradition, the Sulpicians built a garden in the 17th century near their seminary to grow fruits and vegetables. The garden borrowed the French tradition from the Renaissance of the geometrical arrangement of the aisles with the lawn and central statue. The gardens are one of the oldest gardens of its kind in North America.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Centre d'Histoire de Montreal

5) Centre d'Histoire de Montreal

Centre d’Histoire de Montreal is housed in the building that used to be a fire station, back in 1903. Nowadays, this center is one of the most famous destinations in Montreal and is managed by the municipal authorities. The museum boasts an enviable collection of over 2,500 artifacts – models, photographs and other historic items – some of which date back as far as 1535.

The charm of this museum lies in the fact that it is situated right at the heart of Place d’Youvill, close to many other heritage sites and historic buildings, such as Pointe-a-Calliere, the birthplace of Montreal.

The permanent “Montreal Five Times” exhibition depicts the city in five different time frames. Here you can learn all about the 16th century contact with First Nations and about Montreal in the time of Cultural Revolution of the 1960s-70s. If you wish to know all about Montreal from the perspective of its multicultural residents, go through the “Montreal of Thousand Faces” exhibits.

Some of the popularly held temporary exhibitions at Centre d’Histoire de Montreal are The Eye of the City, Jazz-Swinging Nights and Expo 67 – Passport to the World. Explore the center's virtual museum on the website, featuring all the previous exhibitions, prior to actually visiting this truly fascinating venue.

Operation Hours: Wednesday - Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Molson Bank

6) Molson Bank

The Molson Bank was founded by William Molson in Montreal in 1853. Located in St. Jacques Street, this building is constructed in the second Empire architectural style. Molson Bank is an important Titanic related site. Harry Markland Molson, founder of this bank, was one of the passengers who died in the Titanic disaster. Molson was last seen on board, removing his shoes and getting ready to swim. His body was never recovered.

The blockbuster movie Titanic has kindled interest in people prompting them to get attracted to anything associated with the luxury ship that met its tragic end in the North Atlantic. If you are interested in Titanic related sites, do not miss a visit to Molson Bank in Montreal which is frequented by thousands of tourists every year.

This bank is considered to be important not only for the touching story associated with it, but also for its architectural beauty. The architecture of the building reflects the bank’s stable and noble image.

Be sure to visit Molson Bank to relive those sad Titanic moments and also to enjoy the unique architectural style. A visit to this bank is certain to be a memorable one.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
The Bay

7) The Bay

The Henry Morgan Building (French: Maison Morgan) is home to the Hudson's Bay Company flagship store in Montreal. It is named for Scottish-born Montreal retailer Henry Morgan. Built from 1889 to 1891 to a design by the American architect John Pearce Hill the four-storey Neo-Romanesque building was constructed from imported Scottish Old Red Sandstone. The building was modified in 1923 (eight-storey Beaux-Arts style addition clad with red stone to match the original store) and 1964 (eight-storey modernist annex along De Maisonneuve Boulevard).

What to buy here: The Bay Point Blanket.

Not only is The Bay the most popular chain store throughout the country, it is also the oldest company in all of North America. While it may look like another generic department store, it has a strong Canadian identity and is not afraid to show it, with many typically Canadian products in store, including the famous memorabilia from the 2010 Winter Olympics. But one of the most coveted items is without a doubt the point blanket, a large wool quilt woven with four large colored striped on each end, representing The Bay’s color theme: red, blue, green and yellow. The blanket was traditionally south after by the First Nations in exchange for beaver pelts, and has now become a Canadian classic and a pricy collector’s item - although a regular quilt will cost around $260. What could be more representative of a Montreal visit than a warm quilt to snuggle yourself in on those chilly nights? Make sure to pay a visit to the Montreal branch of the chain, located at 585 Sainte-Catherine Street West.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde

8) Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde (must see)

Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral is the third largest and the most beautiful church in Montreal. It is said to be the scaled-down version of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Designed as its one-fourth scale model, the church definitely retains the grandeur and magnificence, along with a controversial and significant history.

It took almost 20 years to build this church and, after its completion in 1894, it was sanctified as St. James Cathedral. It was then rededicated to Mary, Queen of the World in 1955. The cathedral was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 2006.

The marvelous interior closely resembles the interiors of St. Peter’s. Enter the church and the first thing you will notice is the high altar with a permanent canopy of state over it. You will also be impressed with the appealing exterior that features magnificent statues of 13 patron saints. The crucifix of the church, sculpted by Philippe Hébert, is the most notable piece of religious culture in Montreal.

The cathedral’s narthex and esplanade have undergone drastic changes in the past few years. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Montreal. Do not miss a visit to this Cathedral on your trip to the city. You will definitely be spellbound by its beauty and piety.

Why You Should Visit:
Peaceful and ornate, this Cathedral will make you feel as if you are in an old basilica in Europe.

Tip:
Don't forget to check the gift shop that has many unique gift and jewelry items.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 7am-6:15pm; Sat-Sun: 7:30am-6:15pm; Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Sun Life Building

9) Sun Life Building

On your trip to Montreal, Canada, do not miss a visit to the Sun Life Building. Located in downtown, this historic building is at Dorchester Square across the Central Station and Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

One-block to the west of the building is the Windsor Station. Sun Life Building is strategically located between two major Metro lines. You can access this building by car through Ville-Marie and Bonaventure expressways.

Construction of the building was completed in 1931 in three stages. Constructed especially for the Sun Life Insurance Company, the 24 storied building is 122 meters high.

Construction started in 1913 when the southern part of the base was put in place. Base was further extended north and eastward between 1923 and 1926. By 1931 construction of the 16 storied set back towers was completed.

When the Sun Life Building was completed, it held the distinction of being the most spacious in terms of square foot in the whole of British Empire. Taller buildings have since emerged in Montreal and today this building is the 17th tallest flanked by taller CIBC building and Place Ville-Marie.

If you are a fan of interesting cityscape and architecture, do not miss a visit to this historically significant building in Montreal.
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Windsor Station

10) Windsor Station

Windsor Station (French: Gare Windsor) is a former railway station in Montreal. It used to be the city's Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station, and served as the headquarters of CPR from 1889 to 1996. It was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1975, and was designated a Heritage Railway Station in 1990, and a provincial historic monument in 2009.

The Windsor Station project was run by New York City architect Bruce Price, who chose a Romanesque Revival style for the building. The walls are gray limestone from a quarry in Montreal. Outside, the columns reach up to 7 feet (2.1 m) wide.

Since 1993, the structure is no longer connected to the rail network. A part of Windsor Station has been redeveloped into an office complex and houses some restaurants and cafés. The interior concourse, which is open to the public, can be rented for private and public events. The 13 terminal tracks running into Windsor Station and the overhead canopy have been removed, and replaced by a public square.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Montreal, Canada

Create Your Own Walk in Montreal

Create Your Own Walk in Montreal

Creating your own self-guided walk in Montreal is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
The RMS Titanic Walking Tour

The RMS Titanic Walking Tour

Thanks to James Cameron's blockbuster movie, "Titanic", people from all over the world are aware of the luxury liner that sank on its maiden voyage in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. However, not everyone knows that Montreal has a significant number of Titanic-related sites. Take this walking tour to discover the main Montreal sights related to the famous Titanic.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.8 Km or 4.8 Miles
Montreal Introduction Walk II

Montreal Introduction Walk II

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Religious Buildings Walking Tour

Religious Buildings Walking Tour

Montreal is considered one of the most amazing Canadian cities. With an old and rich history, this city offers some great sights for those who are interested in religious buildings, not to mention the world’s famous St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal that is a gem of Montreal. Take this walking tour to discover some of Montreal's most famous religious buildings.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 Km or 2.6 Miles
Souvenir Shopping Tour

Souvenir Shopping Tour

Montreal is an exciting city that features all kinds of entertainment. And if you like shopping, here you can find some of the most beautiful and promising shops and markets. Take this walking tour for a unique shopping experience in Montreal.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Old Montreal Walking Tour

Old Montreal Walking Tour

Take a tour to discover the oldest district in Montreal. It features numerous unique houses dating back over 300 years, museums, art galleries and a great choice of fine restaurants and cafés. Here you'll also find two of the most popular churches in Montreal - the Basilique de Notre Dame and the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Bon-Secours. Enjoy exploring the highlights of Old Montreal.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Montreal Introduction Walk I

Montreal Introduction Walk I

Montreal is an old, yet at the same time, modern metropolis, flagship of Canada's Quebec. Sitting on an island in the Saint Lawrence River with Mt. Royal (to which the city owes its name) at its center, Montreal represents a blend of architectural moods, from French colonial to bohemian, and a wealth of cultural trends and notable attractions – historic buildings, parks, museums, galleries...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles

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