Jacques Cartier explored this area in 1535, but the fort and settlement that he built were short lived. Samuel de Champlain’s 1608 settlement took root, the first permanent settlement in New France, and in 1663 Québec City became the capital of the colony. In 1759 British forces commanded by General Wolfe took the city by scaling a cliff to capture the camp of the French Militia. The French had not anticipated an attack from this direction and had left it lightly defended, a mistake that they repeated with the Maginot Line in World War II. With a population of just over 700,000 modern day Québec City is a lot smaller than Montréal. It is the seat of the Provincial Government and is full of French Canadian history.
Re-enactment at Batterie Royale, Basse-Ville
Batterie Royale was constructed in 1691 as part of the Québec defence system of that time. Designed by architect Claude Baillif and engineer Franquelin, the battery was used as a means of defence during the British siege of Québec in 1759. It was rebuilt in 1977 and from early June to Labour Day historical re-enactments take place here.
Place Royale & Notre-Dame-des-Victoires
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is not the oldest church in Québec, but it is built partly on the foundations of the former “Magasin du Roy”, which was part of Champlain's residence in 1624. Construction of a chapel dedicated to the Infant Jesus began on this site in 1687 but it was left unfinished because it was threatening the light and view of a nearby house. The church was renamed Notre-Dame-des-Victoires in 1711 in honour of the victory over the English fleet commanded by Admiral Walker, then in 1723 the church was finally completed. In 1759 it was gutted by British bombardment but it was rebuilt by 1766. After several modifications in the 19th century, a controversial ’restoration’ of the church in 1967 removed some of the 19th century modifications.
Place Royale in the Basse-Ville (Lower Town) is considered to be the birthplace of French civilisation in North America as it was here that Samuel de Champlain began construction of the original settlement. It served as the town market place, but in the late 19th century as the Haute-Ville (Upper Town) was developed, and this part of Basse-Ville became very run down. The 17th and 18th century merchants house around Place Royale have now been restored.
Château Frontenac, Québec City, from Citadel
What has Québec City got in common with Dubai? The answer is that in both the most famous building is a hotel. While Dubai’s Burj Al Arab is modern, parts of Québec’s Château Frontenac date back to 1893 and is a UN World Heritage Site. Perched on the cliff of the Haute-Ville (Upper Town) it was built in a number of stages by the Canadian Pacific Railway, Château Frontenac is beautifully preserved but it is so large that inside it is a bit of a rabbit warren.
Basilique-Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec
Erected on the site of the first chapel constructed by Samuel de Champlain in 1633, Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix Church was built in 1647. In 1664, now called Notre-Dame de Québec, it became the first parish church in North America and in 1674, the church became a cathedral. Following elevation to cathedral status substantial modifications were made to both the building and its décor. It was badly damaged during the British siege of Québec in 1759, but was reconstructed a few years later. In 1922 fire once again destroyed the cathedral and construction of the present building was started in 1923. The cathedral is richly decorated with impressive works of art including a canopy, stained glass windows and paintings. There is a chancel lamp which was a gift from King Louis XIV of France. Click Tab 2 to see the Sacre Coeur Chapel.
Guards at Québec Citadel
Soldiers in bearskins guard Québec Citadel emphasising that this is a fortification from the British era. Construction of the outer walls began in 1820 but it took 30 years to finish the fort. Although the Citadel is still an active military garrison it can be visited on guided tours. Collections of medals, uniforms, weapons, art and maps are on show.
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