Encircling Old Quebec, these historic fortifications are the defense system of the only surviving walled city in North America. Originally developed by the French to protect them from the British, and later by the British to protect them from the Americans, the restored walls are now a National Historic Site.
Running for 2.8 miles (4.6 kilometers) around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Quebec, the Fortifications of Quebec, which were built between the 17th and 19th centuries, are hard to miss. You can follow the circuit yourself, admiring the sweeping views of the city and the St. Lawrence River from the walls. Alternatively, go as part of guided walking tours during the summer months, during which tour leaders provide background on the the city’s military past. You can also view the ramparts during hop-on hop-off bus tours, and bike tours of Quebec City.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The fortifications are a must-do for anyone with an interest in military history and defense.
- Wear sturdy walking shoes, as some parts of the fortifications are sloping and uneven.
- Most of the fortifications are not wheelchair-friendly, though the Citadelle of Quebec (La Citadelle) is.
- Consider bringing a picnic to enjoy on the fortifications.
How to Get There
A good place to start your fortifications walk is at St. John Gate (Porte St-Jean) near Place D’Youville. The square is about a 10-minute walk from Château Frontenac. Local buses stop at nearby D’Youville bus terminal.
When to Get There
The best time to explore the fortifications is during summer, when the warm temperatures make for pleasant strolling. Go early in the morning to experience it at its quietest. The fortifications are also a nice place to watch the sunset.
Old Quebec’s Defenses
Though Quebec’s defensive walls are now used more for sightseeing and recreation, evidence of their military purpose still exists. Look out for cannons near the Citadelle of Quebec, which point out to the river as well as to the city itself. At Porte Saint-Louis, take a short detour down Rue Saint-Louis until the intersection with Rue du Corps de Garde, where you can see a rogue cannonball lodged in the trunk of a tree—a vestige from an old battle.