Montreal: A Brief Introduction to Canada’s Most European City
Montreal is the largest city in Quebec, which is one of the thirteen provinces and territories that make up Canada. Just ten years ago, something of a bleak mood prevailed in the Quebec province. It seemed possible that the province would choose to fling itself into independence form the rest of Canada.
Since then, Montreal has become a modern city in every regard; with skyscrapers in unexpected shapes and bright colors, a historic district that has been beautifully preserved, and a large area of artists’ lofts, boutiques, cafés, and miles of restaurants. The official language is French and is among the five largest French-speaking cities in the world.
Downtown Montreal is located entirely within the Ville Marie borough and it contains dozens of notable skyscrapers. Many popular restaurants are located in downtown and it is known as the business district of the city. It also includes most of the city’s large luxury and first class hotels, principal museums, main railroad station and department stores.
Old Montreal is historic area located southeast of downtown containing many different attractions such as the Montreal city Hall, the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal and the Montreal Science Centre.
Architecture and cobbled streets in Old Montreal have been maintained or restored and are frequented by horse-drawn coaches carrying tourists. Old Montreal was once a worldwide port, but shipping has been moved further east to a new larger site, leaving the Old Port as a historical area.
During Montreal’s long winters, life slows on the streets of downtown as people escape into La Ville Souterraine, a parallel subterranean universe. This underground “city” evolved when major building developments in the downtown put their below-street areas to profitable use, leasing space for shops and other enterprises. Over time, these spaces became connected with Metro stations and then with each other. It became possible to ride long distances, and walk shorter ones through mazes of corridors, tunnels and plazas. There are now more than 1,700 shops, hundreds of restaurants and more than forty cinemas and theaters down there.
Montreal is a great city to visit and I would recommend anybody who enjoys European culture (but might not be willing to spend the money necessary to get there), to come check out the closest thing we have in North America. You won’t be disappointed and you will most likely want to come back.