Arguably Montréal's most magnificent church (some might say that St. Joseph's Oratory takes that title), a visit to the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal is a foreordained part of any tour of the city. The original structure was built between the years 1672 and 1683 when then Sulpician Fathers, who arrived at in Ville-Marie in 1657, decided that the chapel on the site of the present day Point-à-Callière museum was too small. However by 1800 it was once again deemed unfit for purpose and so the church's administrators set about building the Gothic Revival church that stands on rue Notre-Dame Ouest today. Erected between 1824 and 1829, the Basilica is a dazzling monument to God and the Catholic faith with stunning sculptures, religious work and fine carving work and was at the time the largest house of worship anywhere in North America. Of note is the illuminated crucifixion above the altarpiece, the intricately carved pulpit and the Limoges-made stained glass windows installed on the occasion of the Basilica's 100 anniversary. Don't miss either the Chapel of Notre-Dame du Sacré Coeur which was rebuilt by skilled craftsmen after it was ravaged by fire in 1978. The church has been host to some high profile events including the funerals of former prime minister Pierre-Elliott Trudeau and ice hockey legend Maurice Richard, the visit of Pope John-Paul II and the wedding of Céline Dion. Several days a week a sound and light show called 'And then there was light' recounts the history of Notre-Dame and brings attention to its stunning décor (be aware that schedules are subject to change). Concerts and choir sessions are also held in the church. If you'd like to experience a service in this unique setting you can attend mass Monday-Friday at 7.30am and 12.15pm, on Saturday at 5pm and on Sunday at 8am, 9.30am, 11am (accompanied by choir) and 5pm (weekend masses are accompanied by the organ.
The galleries of rue St. Paul