The oldest Christian parish north of Mexico, the grandiose Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec started life as a much more modest church in 1647 but was damaged and rebuilt several times—most recently in the 1920s following a devastating fire. The basilica is a must-see for anyone with an interest in architecture, art, and history.
The cathedral is a common stop during walking tours and history-focused sightseeing tours of UNESCO-listed Old Quebec, the historic heart of French Canada. During summer, it’s possible to take guided tours of the basilica crypt—where important figures, including François de Laval, the first bishop of New France—are interred.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Services in the church are conducted in French.
- The cathedral is wheelchair accessible.
- Panels providing information are placed throughout the church.
How to Get There
The Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec is located on Rue de Buade in Old Quebec. It’s less than five minutes from the Quebec Funicular. From the Gare du Palais train station, it’s around 10 minutes away on foot. Alternatively, ride the 11 bus from Gare Palais to the de Buade stop.
When to Get There
Most visitors come to Quebec City during summer, when the port is open to cruise ships. During these times, the cathedral can become pretty crowded. Arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds. The cathedral is at its quietest and most peaceful on weekdays in winter.
Treasures of the Cathedral
The cathedral’s interior is lavish. The ceiling is painted like a sky complete with clouds and gold-leaf decoration, while vividly colored stained glass windows let in a soft light. While most of its important artworks and artifacts were destroyed by the devastating 1922 fire, a chancel lamp that gifted by Louis XIV, somehow survived and can still be seen on display here.