Why You Need to Visit Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal

I wasn't really expected to have a religious experience in the middle day. Particularly after slogging through three feet of freshly-fallen snow, cheeks chapped raw from Montreal's brutal winter windchill, all the while dreaming about the poutine I would be having to lunch.

All in all, I wasn't in that holy of a mood.

That changed as soon as the heavy wood doors, lined with velvet, closed behind me with a soft whoosh. I bought a ticket from the silent, tiny man and was permitted entrance through another, larger wood door. And then my mind was blown away - I was suddenly floating in the cosmos.

Notre Dame Basilica's heavenly blue interior is unlike any I’ve seen elsewhere. The colorscape ranges from royal blue to pale robin's egg, with startling splashes of purple and red candles flaming at altars throughout. The ceiling is studded with gold stars, making you feel as through the holiness of this space extended far beyond its physical walls.

Plan to spend at least an hour visiting this Basilica. Though tourists flock to this site for the impressive photo opportunities, the basilica maintains an air of sanctity. For quiet reflection and prayer, visitors may use a glass paneled chapel to the right of the entrance or visit the more modern Chapel of Notre-Dame du Sacre-Coeur in the rear of the basilica, opened in 1982 after the original chapel burned in a disastrous fire. While ogling the main altar of the basilica, don’t forget to turn around to gawp at the impressive Great Casavant Organ in the back – built in 1891, the 7,000 organ pipes vary in length from 32 feet to just 6 millimeters.

After wandering through the church for quite a while, I found myself drawn to the chapel near the entrance. I asked my husband to continue exploring without me and ducked in. I was the only one there. I inched through the creaky wooden pews and knelt in front of the altar. There, I spent a few moments thanking God for the opportunity I had to travel, for keeping us safe, for keeping my mind open enough to appreciate the beauty of the world. 

Learn more about Montreal's amazing churches here

Visit

110 NOTRE-DAME ST. WEST

HOURS: OPEN FOR PRAYER DAILY. OPEN FOR VISITORS

MONDAY TO FRIDAY : 8AM TO 4:30PM

SATURDAY: 8AM TO 4PM

SUNDAY : 12:30PM TO 4PM

HOURS MAY VARY IN WINTER

RATE: ADULTS $6 CAD, CHILDREN $4, FREE UNDER 6 YEARS OLD. GUIDED AND GROUP TOURS ALSO AVAILABLE.

 
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All photos by Britnae Purdy. Please contact britnaep@gmail.com for reposting permission.