Mount Royal Park
The emotional and historic heart of Montreal is Mount Royal Park. As the main natural landmark in Montreal, it should not be missed.
Fantastic walking paths (or the local bus) can get you to the top where you will get unbeatable views of downtown Montreal. The paths--mostly dirt or gravel, but with some rocks and tree roots--do require appropriate footwear. There are several interesting sites at the top:
- Chalet and Overlook -- the reward for making it to the top is a visit to the Pavillion and the views! The beautiful Beaux-Arts/ Arts and Crafts style Mount Royal Chalet is so lovely! Its walls feature large paintings reviewing Montreal history. The rustic decor features a large stone fireplace. The Chalet houses a gift shop, restaurant, as well as an information kiosk.
- The Cross -- Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the city's founder, erected the first cross on Mount Royal in 1643. The Mayor vowed to erect the cross to the Virgin Mary if disastrous floods spared the city. Today, the cross is illuminated at night.
- Beaver Lake -- a 600- by 400-foot artificial lake and pavilion that make for a lovely picnic spot.
Just outside the park on the slopes of Mount Royal is St. Joseph's Oratory. This is Canada's largest church and has one of the largest dome's in the world. One can see the devout "walking" up the incredible 99-step entrance staircase on their knees (that is devotion!). While technically on the slopes of Mount Royal, St. Joseph's Oratory is not accessible from the Park. It has a separate entrance.
Don't forget the Tam Tams! At the base of the mountain (along Park Ave) there is a long-running drumming circle. On fair-weather weekends and Holidays, there is a festive, friendly, and rhythmic atmosphere.