The Notre Dame Basilica, Arguably Montreal's Most Beautiful Church

Montreal is a busy, bustling city with many churches, each with magnificent interior decorations – and each reflecting the diverse cultures that make Montréal home. Among the hundreds of churches scattered across the province, the Notre Dame Basilica arguably has the most stunning interior. As one of the city’s oldest buildings, Notre Dame Basilica should be at the top of your list if you have any interest in Gothic architecture. James O'Donnell, the Irish-American Anglican from New York City who was commissioned to design the building was obsessed with the intricate, dramatic trappings of the Gothic Revival movement of the time, and it shows in his work. O'Donnell was a leader in the neo-Gothic movement and the basilica certainly reflects his influences. Unlike other Montreal churches built in the 1800s, the building is rectangular in shape and includes two towers – with the eastern tower holding a ten-bell carillon and the opposite tower, home to an enormous twelve-ton bell rung for special occasions. The inside of the church is filled with hundreds of intricate wooden carvings, an altar carved from linden wood and several religious statues. Meanwhile, the vaults and the rest of the sanctuary is decorated in blues, azures, reds, purples, silver, and gold. From the intricate carvings, the ornate stained glass covers and palatial floors to the soaring ceilings, the church is a truly a one of a kind and a project that took several years to construct.  Another noteworthy attraction of this breathtaking basilica is its massive organ designed by French organ maker Casavant. The famous pipe organ, dated 1891, is comprised of more than - 92 electropneumatic action stops, 4 keyboards, and a sound-bending 7,000 individual pipes and can be heard throughout the building, dramatically adding to the overall Gothic atmosphere.

Notre-Dame Basilica is also an active venue for noteworthy ceremonies. Among the many historic religious and cultural events held at the Basilica since its founding were the funerals of Sir Georges-Étienne Cartier in 1873, Pierre-Elliott Trudeau in October 2000 and Maurice Richard in 2001, along with the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1984 and the wedding of Céline Dion in 1994. During the summer season, concerts are also given by well-known orchestras including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra which has performed in the church on numerous occasions.

The Basilica (located at the intersection of Notre-Dame Street West and Saint-Sulpice Street in the borough of Ville-Marie in Montréal) is also one of the major tourist attractions in the city of Montréal and definitely worth seeking out.


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