The Metro took us within one block of our first stop, and one of the highlights of any Montreal visit was the Notre-Dame Basilica. Its initial construction began in 1672 but its major renovations and bell towers were not completed until 1843.
During its latter construction period (1824-1829), its architect was an Irish Protestant named James O’Donnell. As he was dying, he expressed a wish to be buried in the church. This request was rejected as he was not a Catholic. However … not a problem … on his deathbed in 1830, he converted to Catholicism and is the only person buried in the church.
While the eastern (left) bell tower (Temperance) houses a ten-bell carillion, in the western tower (Perseverance), a great, 5,000 bell which is rung only once a year or once on very special occasions, as it is feared its reverberations could damage the structure of the basilica.
The interior, while slightly less spectacular at Ste. Anne’s Basilica du Beaupre which we’d seen during our time in the Quebec City area, it can seat over 1,800 worshipers and is incredibly dramatic.
Admiral Lord Nelson
Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours
Chinese Catholic Mission Holy Spirit Church
Our next stop was St. Patrick’s Basilica, one of the purest and grandest examples of 14th and 15th century Gothic architecture in Canada was completed in 1843, its steeple soars 233’ high. The interior height of the dome under the Apse is 85 and its walls are 4’ thick.
Back to the Metro for a train and bus trip to Mount Royal which rises up to three summits overlooking the metropolitan area of Montreal. Named by Jacques Cartier in 1535, it is affectionately known as “the Mountain” to the locals. The park which encompasses much of Mount Royal was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect behind New York City’s Central Park.
Just a few of the some 900,000 graves on Mount Royal
in the city, the campuses of two universities, any number biking and foot paths, and a variety of plant and wildlife.
Reaching a height of 406’, it is taller than Notre-Dame de Paris (295’), St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York (330’) and even Sainte Anne de Beaupre (300’). With architecture reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance, its construction was begun in 1924 and completed in 1955. The Basilica has a seating capacity of 2,200 and can hold up to 10,000 people.
To reach the main level of the Basilica from the street takes you up 283 steps (don’t try to county them … just trust me).Interestingly, for all it’s dramatic exterior and setting, the inside of the Oratory is remarkably understated as compared with most of the other churches we’ve visited in both Montreal and Quebec City on this trip.
Reflecting back on the past six days, we have clearly visited more churches than we’ve probably been in in the last six years!
And, in case you’re wondering how they mow the steep lawns on either side of the stairs leading up to the Oratory …