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St. Joseph's Oratory is a marvel in itself. Currently the largest cathedral in the expansive country, this catholic church holds the distinctive title of continuing the third largest dome in the world after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and Basilique Notre-Dame de la paix in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire. This beauty took quite a struggle to get there since she is not located inside Montreal proper but to the Anglophone suburbs of Montreal. Deemed a location of miracles by Pope John Paul II, the massive catholic complex will inspire anyone who enters. Since the building is so modern (finalized in the 60’s) the actual decoration inside follows a patter of minimalism and geometric tessellation, offering a modern outlook on a traditional building.
As a thriving metropolis, Montreal requires gorgeous shopping malls and commercial centers to entertain those who live in the city and come from a far to visit. What I did not expect was to find these gorgeous shopping malls at the bottom of skyscrapers! Literally all theses shopping malls are found at the basement of huge telecommunications and bank skyscrapers that illuminate the financial sector. This particular comes from a French bank Desjardins which has a massive base in Montréal. Lavishness is almost expected with the radiating lights and warm atmosphere that greatly contradicts the dark and cold Montréal night, I can tell you that it is a wonderful place to escape from the cold.
I believe the true charm of Montréal lays in its finesse in the house architecture. These Victorian homes are not really a tourist attraction, but their originality and up keeping makes them a wonderful treat for the eyes. The plethora of colors that code the walls and the window frames from the palest of yellows to the brightest of blues makes casual strolls through the streets much more exciting. One thing that really caught my attention, especially since I am from the South, is the usage of outside staircases. I am familiar with the idea of partitioning old Victorian Homes to several rooms, yet I have never seen a building be slashed in half where the upstairs and downstairs roommate are completely independent, moreover the fact that the door is on the second floor.
Montréal’s Chinatown might not net be the most famous one in the world, but certainly contains of cultural and linguistic dichotomy that empowers the area as a true gem of Montréal’s city center. Beginning the 1920’s, the previously Jewish neighborhood developed into a home for Chinese workers who were part of the railroad construction. With iconic Chinese gates in the four cardinal directions, Chinatown truly embodies a beauty from out of this continent. Seeing signs in both Mandarin and the French translation was truly an astonishing thing to see, a linguistic diversity like no other.
Cathedral de Notre Dame is one of the iconic buildings of Old Montréal or La Vieille Ville, the gorgeous gothic architecture truly embodies the extent to which French culture permeated the area and still remains a powerful force in the identity of the French Canadian. The cathedral is famous for having stained glass windows that do not depict religious images, portraying Canada’s complex relationship between religion and secularized society. This massive complex is thought of as one of the holiest sites in all of Canada, at least by the locals.
Seem familiar? This sign is an exact replica of the signs for the subway in Paris. Having an extensive network of 68 stations and over 69.3 kilometers in distance covered, this metro system is one of the most efficient and elaborate ones in North America, emulating the greatness of the Parisian subway system. T actually garners the title of third most transited subway system in North America, followed by Ney York City and Mexico City. Cool fact, since its inauguration in 1966, it was reported that the metro system has transported the equivalent of the world’s population (7 billion).
Taking the title as Montreal’s greatest balcony, the park at Mont Royal is located in the north of city, producing some of the greatest panoramic views of the entire city. Truly a fantastic park to go for a quick hike or simply admire nature, much of the hill has remained untouched by the growing urbanization and industrialization of Toronto. This particular monument is the cross that is located at the top of the hill which illuminates at night time.
Locate east of Montreal, there are these two islands (one natural and one artificial) that acted as the host of Expo World Fair 67. These small islands are now the home of the parque Jean Drapeau (Jean Drapeau park). This park is one of the largest green spaces that provide beautiful natural sceneries to the citizens, as well as wealth of other entertainment venues. By the beach, there are great sculptures by local artists including the globally acclaimed L’Homme (Alexander Calder 1967). There is also a biosphere (pictured above) that provides simulated experiences of some of Earth's toughest endowments. There is also the grand Montreal casino, a luxury to say the least, as well as many remnants of the national pavilions from the world fair.
Montreal is not exceptionally controversial by global standards, but that was definitely not the case during the 1976 Olympic Games that the city so bravely hosted. The stadium has the nickname the Big “O” due to its donut shape, but also due to the not-so-pretty exorbitant cost that the Stadium and the Games in general cost the government of Canada and Montreal. It was not until the 2000’s that the city was able to repay all the debts from this global event! Furthermore, those Olympics were marred by a small boycott by Africa nations who saw themselves as being often overlooked by all other nations. The stadium has an awkward place in the hearts of Montreal’s citizens, sometimes even being called a white elephant building.