St. Patrick’s Basilica, located in the heart of Downtown Montreal, was built in 1847 to serve Irish immigrants fleeing the Great Famine. Best known for its church bells and decorative motifs that combine the French fleur-de-lis and Irish shamrock, the basilica holds English-language mass throughout the week.
St. Patrick’s Basilica is a short walk from the Downtown stop on most hop-on, hop-off bus tours, a convenient way to explore without the hassle of navigating. Visitors can take in the basilica’s Gothic Revival architecture on select bike tours, as well as on self-guided tours using Montreal’s BIXI bike share program. Others opt for private tours, which allow the flexibility to add a visit to the basilica onto the day’s customized itinerary.
Things to Know Before You Go
- St. Patrick’s Basilica is a must for history and architecture buffs.
- Download an audio tour of the basilica, available in French and English, on the church’s website.
- Street signs, including parking and traffic signs, are written in French.
- Bathrooms are located at the rear of the church.
How to Get There
St. Patrick’s Basilica is easily accessible using Montreal’s comprehensive public transit system of buses and metros. The nearest stops are Beaver Hall and Belmont on bus 168, René-Léveque and Union on bus 747, and Square-Victoria metro station on the red 2 line. A BIXI bike share dock is conveniently located in front of the entrance.
When to Get There
The daily mass schedule changes depending on the season and is available on the church’s website. Apart from mass times, St. Patrick’s Basilica rarely feels crowded and is open daily to the public until 5pm. For those in town during the holiday season, the basilica offers a popular Christmas Mass and Christmas carol performance.
The City of Saints
In 1888, Mark Twain visited Montreal and wrote, “This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window.” Nicknamed “The City of Saints,” Montreal is home to four basilicas, six cathedrals, and a total of over 300 churches. In addition to St. Patrick’s Basilica, the city’s most iconic churches include Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Joseph’s Oratory, and Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel.