Text and photos: Javier Pinzón
In its more than 140 square miles, Montreal, in the Canadian province of Quebec, has a little bit of everything. People from many corners of the world found a home here and turned this city into a unique and multicultural place, where children and adults enjoy urban spaces during every season of the year, whether it is a hot, 85-degree summer day or a white winter day at 22 degrees. Below, you will find some recommended places to visit during your next trip to Montreal.
The Old Port
Admire the architecture, shop for souvenirs, and enjoy good food in this historic area. The cobblestone streets line the site of Montreal’s beginnings on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, where the French began fur trading in 1611. In 1990, the Old Port was rebuilt as a tourist spot offering carriage rides, handicrafts, ice skating, and many other activities. Don’t miss the Montreal Science Centre, where young and old alike can discover science and technology in an interactive manner.
The Notre-Dame Basilica
This stone basilica, inspired by the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris and built in the Gothic Revival style, is part of the city’s religious heritage. It was inaugurated in 1829 and now houses hundreds of ethnographic treasures, making it the region’s best gallery of religious art.
This green area stands out in the urban landscape. The forest here reaches 732 feet high and stretches across nearly 500 acres. It is a Sunday family destination par excellence any season of the year. In the winter, glide through the snow or skate on the ice; in the spring, see new life flourish; in the summer, have a picnic with the best view of the city, play African beats on the drums, and practice all sorts of outdoor activities; and in the fall, walk among sunset-colored leaves.
A bohemian neighborhood that accentuates this city’s multiculturalism. Cafes, pastry shops, bookstores, restaurants, and galleries of different origins abound along these narrow streets lined with colorful houses, showing off facades of European architecture. During the summer, hundreds of restaurants open their terraces and take over the sidewalks. At night, the Plateau is alive year-round with local musicians and bars serving craft beers.
This imposing Catholic basilica surrounded by beautiful gardens has a privileged view of the river and the city. Its history dates back to 1904, when it was built as a small chapel; it wasn’t inaugurated as a basilica until 1956. Due to the long time that elapsed during its construction, it boasts several architectural styles. Its great dome is one of the largest in the world. The construction is dedicated to St. Joseph of Nazareth, who, according to history, performed miraculous cures for paralytics and the blind.
Very near the city center and the Old Port is the Quartier Chinois. It welcomes you with four traditional Chinese architectural entrances. This is the place to eat delicious Asian dishes, desserts, breads, and the famous Chinese dim sum breakfast. Its origins go back to the construction of the railroad. Over the years it has turned into a tourist attraction, with shops that sell products imported from China and Vietnam and several cultural activities throughout the year.
Place des Arts
Montreal is a world-renowned place of art and culture. In this city, art is not limited to museums or galleries; it takes over the streets. Place des Arts hosts all types of shows and cultural events throughout the year, outdoors and indoors, in the very center of the city. Three performance halls, three theaters, and a symphony hall surround a large events square. This is the place where pedestrians interact with their city and the daily routine is embellished with a touch of art and culture.
Es uno de los mejores jardines botánicos del mundo, con 73 hectáreas de extensión, declarado sitio histórico nacional de Canadá en 2008. Posee unas 165.000 plantas en los jardines y más de 24.000 en sus diez invernaderos, que se pueden ser visitar en cualquier época del año. El Jardín Japonés, el Jardín Chino, las orquídeas y los cactus son algunas de sus principales atracciones. Adicionalmente, en cada época del año hay exposiciones temporales, como el mariposario, degustación de productos del árbol del arce, en primavera; la liberación de mariposas monarca, en verano, y la magia de los faroles chinos y calabazas de Halloween, en otoño.
Built in the Velodrome constructed for the 1976 Olympics, this is a magical world where you can walk through the Amazon rainforest, the Quebec maple forests, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the North Pole, and the South Pole, encountering more than 45,000 animals from 220 different places. In each of these ecosystems, the temperature, humidity, vegetation, and light levels are maintained. It is a unique combination of botanical garden, zoo, and aquarium.
Cabanes à sucre
A visit to Montreal would not be complete without tasting some of the many recipes that use Quebec’s special ingredient: maple syrup. The ideal place to try it is in one of the “sugar huts,” (cabanes à sucre) on the outskirts of the city, usually in the middle of a maple forest. It is beautiful to visit them in the fall when the leaves turn colors. However, the maple syrup is extracted from the trees in the spring, when the days are warm and the nights are cold. For the Québécois, the use of this syrup has no limits: it is used with beans, eggs, sausages, and an infinite number of products.
• It is the fourth most populated French-speaking city in the world.
• It is located on an island on the Saint Lawrence River.
• It has the largest concentration of university students per capita in North America.
• More than seventy international events take place in Montreal each year.
Copa Airlines offers four flights a week every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean through its Hub of the Americas in Panama City.