Montreal ranks as one of my top five North American cities for so many reasons – the food, the language and culture, the fashions and the history. Possibly my most favorite site in Montreal is the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica.
I’ve been to the more famous Notre Dame in Paris, but this jewel in Montreal doesn’t take a back seat to its French cousin. Indeed, the people of Montreal call their cathedral “The Jewel.”
If you’re a fan of Celine Dion, you probably know that this is where she was married in 1994 and where her husband’s funeral was held in 2016. It’s a heck of a place to get married.
Cathedral Basilica in Montreal
This Notre Dame dates to 1624, the earliest days of the city of Montreal. Notre Dame, of course, is French for “Our Lady.” Montreal’s original name was Ville-Marie, or the town of Mary. That the Cathedral Basilica that grew in this spot also honors the Mother of Jesus is no coincidence. A cathedral becomes a basilica based on its architectural, artistic and spiritual significance. Pope John Paul II visited here in 1984.
In the summer months, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra often plays here. Throughout the year at 6:30 p.m. a lovely sound and light show tells the story of Ville-Marie as it has grown into the current city of Montreal. Don’t worry if you don’t speak French. Headsets translate the program in about a dozen languages.