Ottawa is the charming capital city of Canada. And when we say “charming”, it is not just a filler description found in most travel guide books; we actually mean it. When you walk within the city center, you will feel that there is a character to Ottawa, a sense of pride for its history and heritage. One of the things that builds up such character is the impressive old architecture around the downtown area. These structures have kept their beauty and grandiosity despite sharing space with modern buildings. The highlight attraction in Ottawa has got to be the Parliament Buildings, which are nestled on an easily-recognizable hill everybody aptly calls Parliament Hill.
It is almost a sin for any tourist not to visit Parliament Hill while in Ottawa. Dramatically overlooking the Ottawa River, the Hill signifies the important political values that Canadians have worked so much to build and uphold. It is the seat of the country’s federal government, and a place for democratic expressions and celebrations. Because of their great significance, the Parliament Buildings and the surrounding public grounds are designated National Historic Sites. Even if you have little interest in political theories and government seats, Parliament Hill remains to be an amazing visual attraction, as it houses the cities’ most prized architectural masterpieces.
A Bit of a Trivia
The Parliament Buildings that you see now are not the original structures. The original ones were burned during a massive fire in the year 1916. The only building that survived that tragedy is the Library, thanks to its large steel doors that an employee was able to close in the nick of time!
Aside from walking around the grounds of the Parliament Buildings, which is a treat in itself; there are two great reasons to spend more time here:
- It’s possible to tour around prominent interior sections of the buildings. This is a pleasant surprise as a number of government buildings around the world remain restricted to the public!
- The second reason is that the guided tours, which are offered 7 days a week, are absolutely FREE. (Now don’t you think the Canadian government is being generous?)
What to See During the Tour
The Parliament Building guided tour explores the Center Block section, which features the grandiose Gothic Revival architectural style. During the tour, you will have the opportunity to gaze upon the intricate stonework on the building walls, which are adorned with bosses, paintings, grotesques and gargoyles. The vaulted ceilings, grand staircases and marble floors exude an air of refinement and dignity. A knowledgeable bilingual guide will facilitate the tour. Guides here are usually very friendly and they do encourage and entertain questions. Some of the most important sections you will visit during the tour includes the House of Commons Chamber, the Senate Chamber and the Parliament Library. You are also allowed to visit the Memorial Chamber and the Peace Tower on your own.
House of Commons Chamber
Located at the west end of the Center Block, the prominent color of this rectangular chamber is green. The chamber is composed of white oak and Tyndall limestone. It has a linen canvas ceiling and stained glass windows, which showcase floral emblems.
The Senate Chamber is one of the stops of the tour. Located at the eastern end of the Center Block, the chamber features immaculate red carpeting, spotless upholstery and First World War murals as well as fine stone and wood carvings.
At the end of the Hall of Honor lies the Parliament Library. For most tourists, the Library is one of the best stops of the tour around the Parliament Buildings. Aside from being the only surviving original building opened in 1876; the Library of Parliament is just exquisitely stunning, featuring the light and cheery High Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. The Library is mostly composed of hardwood creations including its shelves, walls, panels and flooring. Unfortunately, taking photographs of the Parliament Library is not allowed during the tour.
Memorial Chamber and Peace Tower
At the end of the tour, you are then welcome to enter the Memorial Chamber on the third floor. The chamber, which is a smaller yet intricately carved and decorated room, honors the Canadians who died in battle. Beside the Memorial Chamber is an elevator to the 92.2-meter Peace Tower, which houses 53 bells. The Tower is called as such to remind the public of Canada’s undying commitment to peace.
Official Website Page for Parliament of Canada: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Visitors/centreblockmap-e.asp
Where do we stay while in Ottawa?
We have stayed in multiple locations while visiting Canada’s capital city. Here is a list of some of them:
How to find the cheapest room in Ottawa? Suggestions.
Great online bargains can be found in Ottawa if you book in advance. We suggest using this price comparison website to book your room. Our readers also love to choose booking.com. Either way, you should have no problem finding right place to stay. I have created links below to their respective property lists to save you some time:
For more travel information regarding the Ottawa Parliament Tour, please visit the related article below, under our Travel Tips category. Enjoy reading!