A stroll along rue Saint-Jean is a must for anyone visiting Québec City. Starting from centrally located Place D’Youville, a string of boutiques, restaurants, churches, and historic buildings create a unique and eclectic ambiance. And when the street is closed to traffic in summer, pedestrians take over and a festive atmosphere reigns.
Some of Québec City's charm lies in the fact that it is as vibrant as any large city but small enough to make travel easy. – Heather Greenwood Davis, National Geographic website
The neighbourhood’s many churches bear witness to Québec City’s rich religious heritage. One such example is the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral, which serves the oldest Catholic parish in North America. Designated a national historic monument of Canada for its architectural value, the Basilica-Cathedral stands on the same site it has occupied since 1647. It houses the only Holy Door outside Europe.
Founded in 1663, Séminaire de Québec is the oldest educational institution in Canada. The buildings housing the school were designated a national historic site of Canada in 1929. They are arranged around a central courtyard that visitors can access through a gate a few steps away from rue Saint-Jean. Much of the Séminaire de Québec is invisible from the street and it is well worth spending some time admiring it. It’s the kind of remarkable architectural gem that a local guide could make you discover.
Religion, politics, and education converge at Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, home to City Hall and just steps from Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral-Basilica and the historic Séminaire de Québec. Quebec City’s City Hall was built on the former site of a Jesuit college and opened its doors in 1896. The building, which is designated a national historic site, is where city council meets. The grounds and public square beside City Hall are home to the Jura Clock, a gift from the Swiss canton of the same name for the city’s 400th anniversary. They are a popular gathering place and a venue for various annual events.
Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec attracts the world’s elite cycling teams as they vie for top honours on a challenging course that winds through the city, including along rue Saint-Jean.
With over 130 churches, 20 convent chapels, two cathedrals, and two basilicas, the Québec City Area boasts a rich religious heritage that testifies to the diverse origins of its early settlers.