Църкви, катедрали

Montreal is a city of many churches. This page only describes a few.
Many parish churches are also notable, but are not necessarily open except during services.

Notre-Dame Basilica

Metro Place d'Armes - on Place d'Armes

Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica has nothing in common with Paris's except the name. It's a neogothic building dating from 1829, constructed on the site of a much older and smaller church which had been outgrown by its parishioners. Notre Dame is noted for its lavish and beautiful interior - stained glass windows, gold-tipped polychrome carvings, paintings, statues, and especially its lavish altarpiece. It also has a notable Casavant organ and its big bell, le Gros Bourdon, is the largest bell on the continent.

Old postcard of Notre-Dame

Old postcard of the cathedral


René-Lévesque at rue de la Cathédrale

Completed in 1894, Montreal's Roman Catholic cathedral was designed as a 1/3-size replica of St. Peter's in Rome, down to a copy of Bernini's baldacchino over the altar. Even at this scale the church is pretty grandiose in effect. Everything echoes.

Inside, on the left, a gated crypt contains the tombs of the city's archbishops and cardinals, including that of Bishop Ignace Bourget, who spearheaded the project to build the cathedral. There are several large paintings of events in the history of Nouvelle-France and one detects no irony in passing from a depiction of the conversion of the "savage" to another showing a fiery attack on the colony.


Old postcard showing view from the port

Notre Dame
de Bonsecours

Métro Champ-de-Mars - 400 rue Saint-Paul E., its back wall (left) facing the Old Port

First established in 1657 by Marguerite Bourgeoys, the current building dates from 1771; its façade dates from 1890. In 1998, restoration work revealed several beautiful murals that had been hidden for a century or more. The decor is simple but elegant, with a nautical flair deriving from the chapel's longtime vocation as the Sailors' Church. The hanging lamps in the form of sailing ships are especially pretty.

There is a museum and gift shop, and visitors can climb the tower for a good view of the Vieux-Port. Opening hours vary around the calendar; the phone number is 514-282-8670.

Front façade facing rue Saint-Paul


St. Joseph's Oratory

Metro Côte-des-Neiges - 3800 Queen Mary

A major site of Roman Catholic pilgrimage and worship, St. Joseph's began with the devotional impulse of a humble monk called Frère André. His original tiny chapel, begun in 1904, is still extant on the west side of the church shown here, which was begun in 1924 and finished in 1956. The dome is the world's second largest, after St. Peter's in Rome.

Religious visitors sometimes climb the steps in the middle, praying at every step; more pragmatic ones walk up normally or take one of the free shuttle buses from the base.

Inside there are essentially two large churches one atop the other, as well as side chapels including the candlelit hall leading to Frère André's tomb.

View from below. Photo © 2002 Ben Soo

Facing Queen Mary Road


Two Downtown Refuges


St. George's Anglican

1101 rue Stanley (entry by la Gauchetière) - Métro Bonaventure

Built in 1872, this neo-Gothic gem is now wedged between Windsor Station, the IBM building and Place du Canada. It's a truly pretty little church with lots of delicate decor, carvings, fancy font, wonderful stained glass.

St. Patrick's Basilica

460 René-Lévesque W. near Beaver Hall Hill (entry by side doors)

Regarded as the home church of Montreal's many citizens of Irish Catholic descent, this downtown church is less a tourist spot, more a quiet retreat for downtown workers in search of a little peace. Built in 1847, the tall, elegant Gothic structure has been extensively restored in recent years.The elaborate yet monochrome altarpiece, the heavy altar lamp with angels, and the stained glass are all notable features.