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
Rue Saint-Jean is a must on pretty well every visitor’s to-see list. From the superb skating rink in Place d’Youville, the shops, restaurants, concert halls, and historic buildings along the celebrated street offer plenty of opportunities to warm up and take a timeout.
Québec City’s rich religious heritage is most apparent in this part of the city. Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral, a national historic monument of Canada, is the oldest Catholic parish in North America. The Basilica-Cathedral stands on the same site it has occupied since 1647 and features the only Holy Door outside Europe.
Séminaire de Québec was founded in 1663 and is the oldest educational institution in Canada. Located a short walk from the end of Rue Saint-Jean, the buildings housing the school are arranged around a central courtyard that is easy to miss as it is partially hidden behind a gate. This remarkable architectural ensemble was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1929 and is the kind of gem that is well worth a visit in the company of a local guide.
Place de l’Hôtel-de-ville has long been a focal point for religion, politics, and education in the city. Québec City’s City Hall was built here on the former site of a Jesuit college and opened its doors in 1896. The building, a national historic site of Canada, is where city council meets. The grounds and public square beside City Hall house the Jura Clock, a gift from its namesake Swiss canton on the occasion of the city’s 400th anniversary, and are also a popular gathering place and venue for various events throughout the year.
Every December, the City Hall grounds and square are transformed into a charming little village of wooden booths when the German Christmas market sets up shop.
Late November to late December
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.