Like New York’s Central Park, the Plains of Abraham are a luxuriant oasis in the heart of town. It was here on the site of this storied urban park that key chapters in the city’s history unfolded, and it is here that headline cultural events are held today.
Battlefields Park, which includes the Plains of Abraham, was created in 1908 to mark the city’s 300th anniversary. This 98-hectare park is a vast playground for outdoor enthusiasts, attracting cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and skaters who throng to the refrigerated ice oval.
Québec City’s defensive system, the heart of which is located on the Plains of Abraham, was built between 1608 and 1871, but with considerable changes over that same period. Today, the fortifications consist of 4 gates, 3 Martello towers, the Citadelle, and the ramparts that run nearly 4.6 km around the Old Town. The star-shaped Citadelle—the largest fortress ever built by the British in North America—was erected between 1820 and 1850 and has been a national historic site of Canada since 1980.
The Plains of Abraham were the site of the famous Battle of Québec in 1759, which saw Montcalm’s French forces and Wolfe’s British troops face off in a fight for control of the town and the surrounding territory. The two armies clashed again several months later in the Battle of Sainte-Foy. Ultimately, the decisive British victory had a significant influence on Québec’s architecture, defensive works, and urban planning.
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the fine arts museum on the Plains of Abraham, is worth a visit as much for its stunning architecture as for the remarkable exhibits on display within its walls. Québec City is also home to a number of other museums with fascinating collections and exhibitions of their own.
The impression made upon the visitor by this Gibraltar of America: its giddy heights; its citadel suspended as it were in the air; its picturesque steep streets and frowning gateways; and the splendid views which burst upon the eye at every turn: is at once unique and lasting. - Charles Dickens, American Notes, 1842
Pentathlon des neiges is a unique winter multisport event open to all. Participants compete individually or in teams in skating, skiing, snowshoeing, running, and cycling events.
The museums of Québec City present a rich and diverse array of exhibitions sure to appeal to art lovers and history buffs alike.