Parliament Hill, Ottawa
The Parliament Buildings, in all their splendor of Victorian Gothic sandstone, are quite an imposing sight on their 50m/165ft high hill looking out over the Ottawa River, and, with the high-rise towers that have grown up around them of late, seem to frame the city skyline.
Official site: www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/publications/lop/lop-e.asp
Address: Information Service, Parliament Hill, Ottawa, ON K1A0A9, Canada
Parliament Hill Highlights
Houses of Parliament
The building of the Houses of Parliament was begun in 1860. In their Neo-Gothic style, they look as though they have been transplanted straight from Westminster. The part that was destroyed by fire in 1916 has been completely restored.
The Parliamentary Library, at the back of the building opposite the entrance, is a wonderfully furnished octagon that was untouched in the 1916 fire. Its beautifully paneled interior is very reminiscent of the Reading Room of the British Museum in London.
In front of the Parliament buildings extends an attractive grassed area which is patrolled in summer by members of the Canadian Mounted Police, looking very dashing in their Mountie uniform of scarlet jackets, Stetson, riding breeches, and knee boots.
The Centennial Flame in front of the Houses of Parliament was lit in 1966 to commemorate the centenary of the Canadian Confederation.
Parliament Houses - Sculpture Garden
The sculpture in the grounds behind the Parliament building, from which there is a fine view across the Ottawa River, includes statues of Queen Victoria and several famous Canadian prime ministers. Many of them are by Philippe Hébert, a notable sculptor from Québec Province.
Changing of the Guard
The Changing of the Guard takes place on the front lawn of the Houses of Parliament, weather permitting. The Ceremonial Guard of the Canadian Forces bring stirring military drill and music to Parliament Hill.
The MPs and Senators have their offices in the west wing of the Houses of Parliament, which also used to contain support services such as the print room and the employees' quarters.
The east wing houses the Government offices, some of them restored to look as they did in the 1870s in the time of Lord Dufferin and Premier John Macdonald.
National Arts Centre
Set amidst lawns, in themselves a kind of sculpture park, the National Arts Center, the cultural "pulsating heart" of Ottawa, has three auditoria famous for their acoustics. Leading national and international orchestras, appear here, as do opera, theatre and dance companies.
Below Parliament Hill there is a really lovely walk that runs alongside the Ottawa River.
Supreme Court of Canada
Canada's Supreme Court is to the south-east of the Parliament and has a glistening green roof. Built in 1875, it also has a good view of the Ottawa River.The Supreme Court interprets the Canadian constitution and is the highest court of appeal in the land. It hears criminal and civil cases from the ten provincial courts, the three territorial courts and from the Federal Court.
Bytown Museum (Old Commissariat)
The Bytown Museum presents the history of Ottawa and Bytown (the original name for Ottawa) in the oldest stone building (1827) still standing in Ottawa. While the building of the Rideau Canal took place the building itself was used by royal engineers and Lt. Col. John By.
Address: 1 Canal Lane, Box 523, Station B, Ottawa, ON K1P5P6, Canada
Opening hours: May 22 to Oct 11: 10am-5pm; Thu: 10am-9pm
Oct 12 to May 21: 11am-4pm; Closed: Mon
Oct 12 to May 21: 11am-4pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26)
Entrance fee in CAD: Family $15.00, Adult $6.00, Students $4.00, Child 18 & under $4.00, Senior over 65 $4.00, Child 12 & under $3.00, Child 4 & under FREE
Useful tips: Free admission after 5pm on Thursdays.
The two houses of Parliament, the House of Commons and the Senate, are in the buildings on either side of the Peace Tower, and can be visited, as part of a guided tour, along with Confederation Hall and the Hall of Honor (tickets can be obtained from the Information Service in the grounds, but apply in good time).
The splendid Conference Centre in front of the Château Laurier was actually Ottawa's central station until that was transferred to the south eastern edge of the town in the 1980s.
Mosaika Sound and Light Show
The Mosaika Sound and Light Show is a unique experience with a sound and light show set to a narration on Canada's culture and landscape. The show runs nightly on Parliament Hill in Ottawa throughout the summer months.
Ottawa's latest grand mall, the Rideau Center, is an ultra-modern complex of shopping arcades, cinemas, restaurants and conference rooms, on what was railway land behind the former station.
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