The huge star-shaped Citadel of Quebec (La Citadelle de Quebec) is the largest military fortress in North America still occupied by troops. Begun by the French in the 1750s, the fortress was completed by the British in the mid-19th century, but never actually saw any action. Today, Canada’s French-speaking Royal 22nd Regiment (Royal 22e Régiment) is based here.
Sightseeing and hop-on hop-off bus tours of Quebec City often visit the Citadel of Quebec, with guides providing commentary about its history and current role as a base for Canadian forces. Purchase a ticket to explore the National Historic Site and access the Royal 22nd Regiment Museum (Musée Royal 22e Régiment), where weapons, uniforms, and other military artifacts are displayed. French- and English-language guided tours of the complex take place at least every hour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Citadel of Quebec is a must for anyone with an interest in military history.
- A good portion of the tour takes place outdoors, so wear weather-appropriate clothing.
- The citadel is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The fort is set atop Cape Diamond (Cap Diamant), which overlooks the St. Lawrence River. Reach the citadel by car via Côte de la Citadelle (limited parking is available at the site). It’s about a 30-minute walk from Gare du Palais train station and a 20-minute walk from Chateau Frontenac. RTC buses (3 and 11) stop next to Côte de la Citadelle.
When to Get There
Summer is the best time to visit: Tours are more frequent, the weather is warmer, and troops can be seen performing special ceremonies. Changing of the Guard ceremonies take place daily at 10am from June 24 through Labour Day in early September, while Beating of the Retreat ceremonies run at 5pm on Wednesdays in July and August. Nighttime tours by lantern take place from June to October.
Regimental Ceremonies at the Citadel
The Changing of the Guard marks the handover between the previous sentries on duty and the batch of troops taking over for them. Officers inspect the troops, with the military band providing music and the well-behaved mascot, Batisse the goat, also taking part. Meanwhile, the Beating of the Retreat marks the end of the day and sees guards assemble on the parade square to fire rifles. Troops wear bearskin hats and red regimental coats during both ceremonies.