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Church Notre-Dame-des-Victoires

This small, Roman Catholic church commemorates French victories over the British and is built on the site of the city’s first settlement.

The Church Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (Our Lady of Victories) is one of the oldest stone churches in Canada and stands directly on the spot where Québec began. Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Québec, set up his first settlement here in 1608. This modest church was built on the settlement ruins 80 years later.

As you approach the front door, look down at the circle of dark stones in front of the building. These mark the spot of Champlain’s second settlement. During the siege of Québec in 1759 the church was nearly destroyed. A seven-year period of reconstruction followed and further restorations have taken place over the years. Today’s interior dates from the mid 19th century and it’s the attractive décor and artwork that appeals to many visitors.

Study the late 19th-century frescoes on each side of the altar, depicting the history of the church and the city. Other paintings include a reproduction of Van Dyck’s Christ en Croix (Crucifixion).

You’ll see that the altar is shaped like a fortress. It symbolizes two famous victories over British invaders in 1690 and 1711 after which the church is named. The church is also noted for the replica of the ship, the Brézé, that’s suspended from the ceiling. This ship brought French soldiers to Canada in 1664 to help chase British forces out of the colonies.

Go to the side chapel dedicated to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. There are paintings of the saint by Carle Van Loo and Théophile Hamel and a wooden altarpiece coated with gold leaf.

Church Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is situated in Place-Royale in Québec’s Lower Town and is easily reached on foot from anywhere in Old Québec. Local buses service the area too. The church is open daily for visitors, but the schedule depends on the season. For up-to-date information on opening hours and mass times, visit the Notre-Dame de Québec website.


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