Being Portuguese, I don't easily get impressed with churches/basilicas as there are many impressive ones over there.
First there was the entrance fee. I don't really like that, but I can understand it as it would otherwise be even more crowded. In any case, it was free for worshippers, so I guess it is alright.
Then, the actual basilica is nice, quite impressive but the nicest one I've seen (I've been to St. Peter's/San Pietro Basilica...).
What I really liked, was a small chapel in the back (but still inside) of the basilica, that had a beautiful carved wood panel (see picture).
Overall, if you are in Montreal it is worth a visit.
Notre-Dame Basilica was opened in 1829, making it the largest religious edifice in North America at the time. The Sulpicians chose a Neo-Gothic style, and assigned the task to a Protestant architect from New York, James O'Donnell. He later converted to Roman Catholocism so that he could be buried beneath "his" church!
The Basiclica is without a doubt some of Montreal's most impressive architecture. The detail inside is amazing and you can spend some time in here admiring the place. If you are exploring Old Town in the middle of winter go in for a tour to warm up! :-)
My camera didn't take the best pictures inside the structure but have a look at my travlogue in any event and you can see some more of this impressive building.
If you are going to visit one church in Montreal, this is it, the interior is filled with beautiful detail work and brilliant bold colors, the vaulted ceiling an aqua sky covered with 24 karat gold stars, the patterned gilded and painted archways, the stained glass windows from Limoges. Behind the main altar is the Sacred Heart Chapel, a more modern part of the church, rebuilt after a fire in 1978. The lighting in the main part of the basilica is very low and most of my pictures did not turn out, photography is permitted.
Guided tours that last about 20 minutes in both English and French leave periodically from the back of the church and are included in the admission price of $4 CAD, access is always free for services or for praying. Most evenings there is also a light and sound show called La Lumiere Fut, admission for this is $10CAD. Concerts are also held here, our guide said for some performances that there were rehearsals earlier in the day of the performance that you could also hear with the $4 general admission.
If you must visit only one church in Montreal this is the one. An austere exterior contrasts with the splendid blue/gold painted wood interior. The wood carving is exceptional. It is a perfect example of neo-gothic architecture.
Take some time to study the sculpture and wooden relief on the altar. The ten large wooden statues were created by Henri Bouriche. At the top, you will see the patron saint of the church, Mary, being crowned by her Son, Jesus. Upon entering the church, many people gasp at the sight of the main altar, which is lit up in shades of blue.
This is one of the most impressive things in the basilica! It is 14 meters high, with sculptures of the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah at the base. The initial plan called for four prophets to be at the base~~the prophets Daniel and Isaiah can be found at either side of the high altar.
For a hundred years, Notre Dame was without stained glass windows. For the church's centennial in 1929, Olivier Maurault, the parish priest, decided on the themes and characters fo be depicted in a series of 11 stained glass windows relating the main events in the religious history of Montreal, from the arrival of Jacques Cartier in 1535 to the opening of Notre dame in 1829.
There is a fee to enter the basilca, surprisingly. I believe it was around 2 or 3 dollars. Next door is a gift shop where I picked up a booklet and a postcard. If you are interested in the interior of the basilica, I strongly recommend buying some postcards, as I found it difficult to take good (digital) pictures inside!
Notre Dame's two towers are called "Perseverance" and "Temperance". "Perseverance" holds one of the world's most famous bells, manufactured by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in England, it weighs 10,900 kilograms. It is known as the Jean-Baptiste Bell.
I’ve seen enough cathedrals and churches to last me a lifetime. Wasn’t too keen on going here, but figured it was only C$4 so what the heck. Wow, was I wrong. Absolutely stunning inside. On top of it all, a group of about 20 violin and cello players were practicing for an upcoming concert, and were playing while I was there. Definitely one of the highlights of Montreal.
This building, finished about 1829. Most of the interior design finished around 1880. The pews are solid, thick wood, and all hand engraved with fancy designs on the ends. A spiral staircase of wood comes down the side of the inside from the 2nd level, and looks great.
Various concerts & musical performances are held on a regular basis, I wish I had attended one of these while here. 20 minute guided tours are available in an array of languages. Masses on Sunday at 8, 9:30, 11 and 5pm.
C$4 (I think) NOT part of museum pass.
If the chapel seems very new to you, that's because it was rebuilt, following a fire that destroyed a major part of the chapel in 1978.
A specialized group of sculptors. woodworkers, and carpenters using traditional techniques were employed to redesign the chapel.
I am sorry some of these pictures are so dark!! It was very difficult to take a good picture inside the basilica. Although this one is not very good, I chose to include it here. This is a wooden sculpture of Christ on the cross, created in 1741. It is one of the major works by Montreal sculptor Paul Jourdain dit. Labrousse (1697-1769).
St. Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700) was canonized on October 31, 1982. Following her arrival in Montreal in 1653 she devoted herself to a life of teaching. She founded a comunity of nuns called the Congregation of Notre-Dame of Montreal. She is shown here in a painting by Dubois teaching natives and children of colonists.
Since we had seen Notre Dame in Paris, it just seems natural to want to see this Notre Dame in Montréal. We were very fortunate to visit the church during some type of service. During this service, a very young girl of about 11-13 years old sang so beautifully it was truly angelic! The church itself is quite beautiful and not like the Notre Dame in Paris.
The church does ask for an admission fee to help with the cost of constant restoration. They also present a short sound and light show that also might be worth seeing. The visiting hours and show hours seem to be limited.
Basilique Notre-Dame is definitely one of the most recognized landmarks in Vieux (Old) Montreal. It is one of the most beautiful churches in North America. Built in 1829, it has a blue vaulted ceiling with thousands of 24-karat gold stars, detailed stained-glass windows telling the history of Montreal, life-size wood carvings, and a pipe organ with more than 7000 pipes. Guided tour is available for $2.
This is also the church where Celine Dion got married back in 1994 and her son baptised in 2001.
There is an evening light-and-sound show telling Montreal's history and the great artwork of the church. Adult admission is $10.