Historic District of Old Québec

Province of Quebec, City of Quebec
N46 48 34 W71 12 38
Date of Inscription: 1985
Criteria: (iv)(vi)
Property : 135 ha
Ref: 300
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Québec was founded by the French explorer Champlain in the early 17th century. It is the only North American city to have preserved its ramparts, together with the numerous bastions, gates and defensive works which still surround Old Québec. The Upper Town, built on the cliff, has remained the religious and administrative centre, with its churches, convents and other monuments like the Dauphine Redoubt, the Citadel and Château Frontenac. Together with the Lower Town and its ancient districts, it forms an urban ensemble which is one of the best examples of a fortified colonial city.

Founded in the 17th century, Québec City bears eloquent testimony to important stages in the European settlement of the Americas: it was the capital of New France and, after 1760, of the new British colony. The Historic District of Old Québec is an urban area of about 135 hectares. It is made up to two parts: the Upper Town, sitting atop Cap Diamant and defended by fortified ramparts, a citadel, and other defensive works, and the Lower Town, which grew up around Place Royale and the harbour. A well-preserved integrated urban ensemble, the historic district is a remarkable example of a fortified colonial town, and unique north of Mexico.

Criterion (iv) :  A coherent and well-preserved urban ensemble, the Historic District of Old Québec is an exceptional example of a fortified colonial town and by far the most complete north of Mexico.

Criterion (vi) : Québec, the former capital of New France, illustrates one of the major stages in the European settlement of the colonization of the Americas by Europeans.

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Quebec City (French: Ville de Québec, or just Québec) is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec. Located at a commanding position on cliffs overlooking the St. Lawrence Seaway, Quebec City’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of only two cities in North America (the other being Campeche in Mexico) with its original city walls. Quebec is a city of about 700,000 residents. Understand[edit] Quebec City is the capital city of the province of Quebec (though it is referred to as the National Capital in the province). Much of the business here is of the administrative and bureaucratic nature, which would normally make a city quite dull. Fortunately, the city has a remarkable history, as the fortress capital of New France since the 16th century. The vibrant historical centre makes for an incredible visit. [read more]

Trois-Rivieres (historically and rarely Three Rivers) is the second-oldest city in Quebec, founded in 1634. It lies almost half-way between Montreal and Quebec City and can make a nice stopover on travel between those two cities. Trois-Rivières is the regional capital of the Mauricie administrative region of Quebec, a vast area of 39,748 km². Located at the junction of two economic regions, Trois-Rivières radiates through a pool of almost 475 000 people. It is 130 km from Montreal and 120 km from Quebec City on ​​the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River. The Saint-Maurice river, with its watershed with a length of 587 km, is the main river of the Mauricie administrative region. The waters of four rivers bathe his magnificent Laurentian plain. St. Anne, Batiscan, Du Loup river and Maskinongé river are also important for economic and recreational tourism development. [read more]

Montreal (French: Montréal) is the largest city in the Quebec province. While Quebec City is the capital, Montreal is the cultural and economic centre, and the main entry point to the province. With 1.7 million citizens in the city proper and 4 million in the urban area, Montreal is Canada’s second largest city, as well as the largest francophone city in the Americas. Still, a quarter of the population speak English as a mother language, and most Francophones are conversant in English. Old Montreal has a heritage of colonial times. Though a large city, Montreal gives opportunities for outdoor life, as well as watching the legendary Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team. On an island in the St. Lawrence River at the historically highest navigable point, Montreal has been a strategic location since before the arrival of Europeans in Canada. Hochelaga was on present-day Montreal when Cartier first visited. [read more]

11 replies »

  1. Almost everything about Old Quebec feels European, and not simply because its people speak French. The continental ambience comes from its cafes and pâtisseries, its beautifully preserved colonial buildings and the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages. It comes from the rabbit warren of cobbled streets so long and steep that railings are affixed to the sides of buildings. It comes from the feeling that every stone, every narrow lane, every colorful shutter and awning is steeped in history and character.

    We paused for a few minutes along the way to marvel at a towering statue of Samuel de Champlain and the beautiful St. Lawrence River, and then boarded the funicular that connects the Old City’s upper and lower districts. The glass-walled tram slowly lowered us down over the rooftops of the Lower Town and into the Quartier du Petit Champlain, where charming shops and cafes make up the oldest commercial district in North America.


  2. Old Quebec’s red brick buildings, cobblestone streets and wrought-iron balconies are so European that if it weren’t for the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s coffee shop, we would have been fooled.


  3. Don’t forget to walk along the walls that surround the Old Quebec; the views are magnificent. Notable sites like the Petit-Champlain District, the Plains of Abraham, and the Parliament Building are not to be missed. As is the most photographed hotel in the world, Chateau Frontenac.


  4. The Old Quebec (Old Town) is split into Upper Town (Haute-Ville), and Lower Town (Basse-Ville). Upper Town is home to shops, hotels, restaurants, art-filled alleys and musician-dotted corners. Lower Town — a mix of the same and more of the quaint and historic, housed in marvelous stone buildings. And if you’re tired of the steep inclines between Upper and Lower Towns, get a lift on the funiculaire, which connects Terrasse Dufferin with Lower Town. The views are spectacular on this short, cliff-climbing cable railway, in operation since 1879.


  5. All around are historic buildings — Parliament, Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame, the Citadelle — but it’s the area with no buildings that caught my attention: the snowy fields of the Plains of Abraham. In the summer, it’s a 240-acre green space commemorating the 1759 battle between the French and British Empires in North America. It includes gardens, greenhouses and a museum that tells the story of the battle. But in the winter, especially from above, it’s just fields and fields of snow. You can take a guided snowshoe tour or cross-country skiing tour on its trails. Or skate on its rink. Skis, snowshoes and skates are all available for rent if you want to tour on your own.


  6. The best activity in Quebec is to simply meander through the streets and plazas – forget your map and immerse yourself in the narrow roads and alleys. You’ll never get lost, the city walls will be your guide. Simply close your eyes and imagine living here in the 17th or 18th centuries. If contemporary paintings from those eras are to be believed, it may not have been all that different than it is today.


  7. You can not miss the cradle of French America, center of old Quebec, an area completely made to walk by foot. It is also very safe, you can go day or night without any problem. Discover the Plaza Real, where the first house was created, and also has the oldest stone church in all of North America. Visit the Parliamentary Hill, is an area surrounded by government buildings of which the parliament building stands out that enhances its beauty with night lighting. In addition, in this area is the Palace of Fine Arts of Quebec, site where the largest collection of works from the 18th century region to date. Admire the majesty of the Château de Frontenac, undoubtedly one of the most outstanding architectural pieces of the city, and that is also a historic hotel that is still in operation, so if you have the possibility to stay at least one night in this place you can tour it completely, it is considered the most photographed hotel in the world.


  8. Old Québec stars narrow lanes with mansard-roofed cottages and storied sites such as Le Monastère des Augustines, a 17th-century monastery with a museum of religious artifacts and a wellness-focused hotel. Start in the upper town with dazzling views of the St. Lawrence River from the Terrasse Dufferin, then head to the lower city via the steep L’Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Steps), or, in winter, by toboggan slide.


  9. Right in the heart of Québec City, you could spend an entire day walking the streets through this historic district. Quebec is the only walled city north of Mexico, and the entire area of Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can actually walk along the top of the wall or on the path next to it for a great self-guided walking tour. If you walk the entire wall, it’s 4.6 km (just under 3 miles), but you can also choose to just walk a portion of it.


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