Religious Buildings Walking Tour, Montreal (Self Guided), Montreal

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.
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Religious Buildings Walking Tour, Montreal Map

Guide Name: Religious Buildings Walking Tour, Montreal
Guide Location: Canada » Montreal (See other walking tours in Montreal)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.3 Km or 5.8 Miles
Author: doris
1
Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount-Royal

1) Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount-Royal (must see)

Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal was established in 1904. This small chapel was constructed by Saint Brother Andre in honor of Saint Joseph. The latter is said to have bestowed Saint Brother Andre with magical healing powers. Today, this chapel is one of the major landmarks in Montreal, visited by thousands of tourists from across the world.

Located on the western slope of Mount Royal, Saint Joseph’s Oratory is the tallest point in Montreal receiving at least two million visitors every year. The dome of this largest church in Canada holds the distinction of being the third largest in the world.

There are a total of 283 steps that lead to Saint Joseph’s Oratory where you can offer prayers. Some ardent pilgrims follow the tradition of climbing the last 100 steps on their knees to redeem themselves.

In 2004, on the occasion of the 100th-anniversary celebrations, this Roman Catholic Basilica has been declared a “National Historic Site of Canada”. Take a tour of the museum at this oratory where you can find exhibits of Christian arts. A visit to the majestic Saint Joseph’s Oratory is a must on your trip to Montreal.

Why You Should Visit:
Enormous upper church and lower crypt church. Accessible by either stairs or escalators/elevators. Terraces have outstanding views looking down on Montreal. Awe-inspiring.

Tip:
Free pipe organ concerts with organists from around the world on Sunday afternoons!

General hours: 6am-9pm
Oratory Museum hours: 10am-4:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul

2) Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul

Located at the heart of Montreal, the Church of Saint Andrew and Saint Paul is renowned for its striking architecture. This Presbyterian Church was constructed in 1932 as a memorial to soldiers of Royal Highland Regiment of Canada who were killed in action during World War I. This church came into existence in 1918 as a result of the congregation of the church of St. Andrew and St. Paul.

The interior of the church is tastefully decorated. The stained glass windows overlooking the Christ altar at the center is a striking contrast to the stone interior. Built in Gothic Revival architecture style and designed by Harold Lea Featherstonehaugh, this spacious church continues to captivate people with its majesty and grandeur.

Another remarkable feature you will notice here include the elegant and graceful arches and pillars. They represent the sacred groves of trees pointing to the dimensions of the prayer. On the ceiling, you will find paintings of celestial and natural objects, such as the Sun, Earth, Stars, Moon, trees, birds, flowers and beasts that add to its magnificence.

While on a trip to Montreal, make sure to visit this architectural and religious masterpiece. If possible, join the Sunday services for a wonderful spiritual and aesthetic experience.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
St. George's Anglican Church

3) St. George's Anglican Church

The elegant entrance, the candle-scented dim interiors and the splendidly carved sandstone exterior makes St. George Anglican church one of the prettiest churches located in downtown Montreal. This heritage church was opened in 1843 to accommodate the overflow of worshipers from the Christ Church Cathedral. The present building was opened for public worship in 1870.

Inspired by the 13th century religious architecture from England, this church was designed by William Tutin Thomas. Some of the prominent features of the church include stained-glass windows, wooden carvings, double hammer-beam ceiling and column-free interior. The magnificent ceiling beams look grand and awe-inspiring.

Inspired by England's 13th Century religious architecture, St. George’s Anglican Church features a lot of pinnacles and pointed arches. Designed by Alexander Francis Dunlop, an architect from Montreal, the Bell Tower was completed in 1894.

Sandstone carvings, interspersed with stained glass windows, lend a stunningly elegant appearance to the exterior. Traditional English woodwork and dark wood paneling adorns the interior of the chapel. The tapestry you see here finds its origins in Westminster Abbey, London. This tapestry was used during Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Enjoy a visit to this magnificent and beautiful church on your trip to Montreal.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde

4) 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
5
Christ Church Cathedral

5) Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral, built in 1859, is a classic example of neo-Gothic architecture, designed by British architect Frank Wills. The original Christ Church in old Montreal was established in 1814, but was destroyed by fire in 1856. The present church is located at the heart of Montreal’s commercial area. This is the only cathedral that has re-invented itself as per modern day settings with its impressive shopping mall below. To the north of the church, there is a 34 floor skyscraper. Other prominent buildings in proximity include the McGill University and KPMG building.

The last decade has witnessed a lot of important restoration and renovation work on the area costing millions of dollars. This has been made possible by the generous infrastructure grants and support from the federal government as well as the Quebec religious heritage foundation. The government declared Christ Church Cathedral a historic monument and a National historic site of Canada in 1999.

The prominent features of the cathedral include a choir gallery, a square shaped crossing tower, music practice rooms, Cathedral’s Sunday school and a drop-in center.

On your trip to Montreal, enjoy a visit to this impressive cathedral that stands as a testimony to the great Christian art of ancient times.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
St. Patrick's Basilica

6) St. Patrick's Basilica (must see)

St. Patrick’s Basilica dates back to 1847 when famine ravaged Ireland and citizens were forced to move to Montreal in large numbers. This church housed these immigrants and provided them with a much-needed sanctuary. It is one of the oldest English-speaking Roman Catholic basilicas in Montreal.

Pope John Paul II helped this church acquire the status of minor basilica in 1989 owing to its rich historical significance. With generous donations from followers and government subsidy, the basilica has undergone many restorations costing millions of dollars. It was declared as a historic monument and as National Historic site of Canada by the Quebec government in 1996.

St. Patrick’s Basilica is a massive old building darkened by age and pollution but the real glory of it lies in its vast, lively and embellished interiors. The pillars, statues, pinnacles, carved columns, three altars, oil paintings of saints and stained glass windows emit radiance that enhances the glory of the basilica. One of the major attractions here is the large hanging lamp weighing 1800 pounds.

Enter this church and you will be transported right back to those times when hapless immigrants were fondly embraced and taken care of. Do not miss a visit to this Basilica that will certainly offer you a spiritually enriching experience.

Why You Should Visit:
Not as opulent as Notre-Dame Basilica, but lovely on its own. It's lighter and brighter, with glorious woodwork and other details.
On a sunny day, the stained glass windows and gothic architecture are textbook perfect and golden in hue. Plus, it's quiet and free to visit.

Tip:
Visit after lunch and you might catch the organist practicing for upcoming services.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8:30am-5:15pm; Sat: 10:30am-5pm; Sun: 8:30am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Notre-Dame Basilica

7) 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
8
Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours

8) Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours (must see)

Built in 1771, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours is today regarded as a treasure in Montreal. It is the oldest surviving chapel in old Montreal and offers a peaceful ambiance for worshipers. This chapel sits on the ruins of an older church of 1950 that was burnt in fire during a war when Montreal was under French rule.

The decor of the chapel is simple and elegant. The hanging lamps shaped like sailing ships are very pretty and give the chapel a nautical flair in keeping with its reputation as a Sailors' Church. As you visit the chapel, climb up the spire and enjoy the spectacular views of Saint Lawrence River and Old Port.

Generations of staunch worshipers have contributed wholeheartedly to the renovation, restoration and decoration of this chapel. Recent restoration work revealed several frescoes that were hidden for centuries.

The chapel houses a museum dedicated to Marguerite Bourgeoys, the founder of the congregation of Notre-Dame. Under the chapel, you can find interesting archaeological excavations that give you an insight into the history of Montreal.

Why You Should Visit:
Definitely worth a peek inside to see the cool miniature boats hanging from the ceiling. The museum attached to the church is also well worth the time. Included is access to the tower with some of the best views of the harbor. You also have the opportunity to visit the archeological dig of the first church under the current church.

Tip:
Make sure you go around to the back of the church. This could be the only church you'll ever see where the view of the back of the church eclipses that of the front!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 11am-4pm
Jan 16 - Feb 28: closed
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

9) Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

Built in 1876, Our Lady of Lourdes chapel is an architectural masterpiece and a religious gem. The chapel was designed by famed artist Napoléon Bourassa. The chapel is a dazzling mix of Byzantine and Roman style. It is located between the University of Quebec and Latin Quarter in downtown Montreal as a symbol of divinity and tranquillity. The moment pilgrims enter the chapel; they are instantly cut off from the noise and traffic of the busy downtown and transported to a completely tranquil and peaceful world.

Many pre-planned religious activities takes place in this chapel starting early morning and continuing on till late evening. Visitors flock here to be a part of these divine proceedings.

The walls of the church are covered with beautiful bright coloured murals and the pillars and altar are sculpted with ornamental carvings. Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel may not be the biggest monument in the city but is definitely a sacred and sacrosanct tribute to Virgin Mary.

If you are interested in local culture, architecture, history, religion and art of Montreal, Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel is the place to visit. You will be amazed and charmed by the church’s rich history, culture and majesty.

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