Spend a day enjoying the lively debates, artworks, library and Gothic Revival architecture of Canada’s political heart.
The center of the Canadian government is situated on a 170-foot (50-meter) hilltop overlooking the Ottawa River. Home to the members of Parliament, the Senate and the House of Commons, the buildings on Parliament Hill are a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture.
Parliament Hill is a National Historic Site and was the home of Canada’s first government. Explore the Peace Tower and the Memorial Chamber, a monument to Canadians who have lost their lives in conflict since the Confederation. The Peace Tower has an observation area as well as a carillon of 53 bells. Visit the Library of Parliament, a 16-sided domed structure with an impressive range of books in its collection. In the center of the room stands the marble statue of a young Queen Victoria.
Wander through the House of Commons foyer to see stone carvings and painted panels representing key moments in Canada’s political, economic and social history. On the ceiling, glass panels show images of the English rose, the French fleur-de-lis and the three symbolic maple leaves of Canada.
Take a seat in the public galleries of the Senate and House of Commons to hear parliamentarians debate national issues. The Senate is furnished with plush red upholstery, a gold-leaf ceiling and works of art designed to remind parliamentarians of the country they are serving. In the House of Commons, the green decorations reflect the British House of Commons while the stained-glass windows depict floral images from the Canadian provinces. Below the windows, sculptures detail elements of Canada’s Constitution.
The buildings on Parliament Hill are open to visitors free of charge. Located in downtown Ottawa, they are easily accessible on foot or by bicycle and public transportation. There is no on-site public car parking at Parliament Hill; however, you can park for a fee in lots nearby. Opening hours and access vary throughout the year, so check the website or call ahead for details.