What travellers need to know about Parliament Hill
- Ottawa Travel Guide
- Thursday, 07 February 2013 08:48
Those who are travelling to Ottawa likely have Parliament Hill on their list of must-see attractions while visiting Canada's capital, and it is easy to see why. The Parliament Buildings, which are home to Canada's federal legislature and an iconic symbol of the country, sit on a dramatic hill overlooking the Ottawa River. Approximately 1.5 million visitors make their way to Parliament Hill each year. Visitors are able to get free guided tours of the buildings and explore the area.
Even though this is one of threee huge Gothic Revival buildings on Parliament Hill, it is easily the most recognizable to Canadians. It has become the symbol of Canada's parliamentary system and attracts thousands upon thousands of visitors. This building is home to the Senate, House of Commons and the Library of Parliament. A disastrous fire destroyed the Centre Block (except for the Library of Parliament, when a quick-thinking librarian closed its iron door) in February 1916 – what you see is the rebuilt version.
The Peace Tower, part of Centre Block, is one of the most visited sites of Parliament Hill. Its gargoyles and intricate carvings on each corner of the building and the incredible 360 degree view of the Capital definitely makes it worth a visit.
West Block and East Block
The West Block was designed by Thomas Stent and Augustus Laver in 1859, just as the East Block and original Centre Block were. The building is currently being renovated, but that does not take away from the beauty of the architecture from the outside. The East Block is less ornate than the rest, but it is the home to six massive vaults, where the nation's financial treasures once were kept before the Bank of Canada was created.
Fun events throughout the year
As expected, Parliament Hill is one of the focal points of Canada Day, which falls on July 1. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians travel to Ottawa for some spectacular entertainment and a massive fireworks display. Also during the summer months, the front lawn of Parliament Hill has a Changing the Guard ceremony each day at 10:00am. On summer evenings, the public is asked to gather and enjoy the Sound and Light Show, which showcases giant images and a colour show on the large, historical buildings. Those who make the trip in December can check out the magnificent light display for the holidays.