Protected by its original fortifications, Old Quebec has survived the centuries in a state of picture-perfect preservation. In 1985, UNESCO declared the entire historic district to be a World Heritage Site. This section of town is the main reason Quebec is able to lure so many visitors, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
It doesn’t matter which angle you’re admiring it from, Quebec City is stunning. We had a chance to see two of the best views of the city: from the water, during a short ferry trip across the St. Lawrence River, and from the sky, in the 31st-floor observatory of the city’s tallest building.
Only two cities in North America have preserved their original fortifications. One is Campeche, Mexico, which we visited while living in the Yucatán. And now that we’ve been to Quebec City, our exploration of North America’s Fortified Cities is complete. We went on a walk around Old Quebec’s ancient walls, ending up at the Citadel, which was built by the British between 1820 and 1850.
Montreal might be Quebec’s largest and most important city, but it’s not the capital of the province. That would be Quebec City, three hours to the north along the St. Lawrence River. The only city in Canada or the USA which has retained its original fortifications, Quebec City makes for a perfect getaway from Montreal.