Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa

Unlock the Splendor: Ottawa’s Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, a Free Journey into Gothic Grandeur

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Embark on a journey through history and artistry with a visit to the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa, a free activity that offers a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural and spiritual heritage.


Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa is an architectural marvel, showcasing the profound faith and craftsmanship of its creators. Visitors are invited to explore the cathedral’s majestic interior, adorned with Gothic arches, slender columns, and terraced galleries that amplify its vastness. The sanctuary is particularly notable for its intricate Gothic ornamentation and a unique iconographic program that blends tradition with innovation.


  1. Interior Architecture: The cathedral’s interior is a testament to Gothic architecture, with a long central nave, Gothic arches, and a blind arcade that accentuates the rhythm of the nave.
  2. Sanctuary: The sanctuary stands out for its rich Gothic ornamentation and an iconographic program that features a mix of traditional and innovative elements, including figures of saints and patrons like Saint Joseph, Saint John the Baptist, and St. Patrick.
  3. Craftsmanship: The ornamental ensemble was crafted between 1876 and 1885 by renowned craftsmen, carpenters, and sculptors, including Philippe Pariseau, Flavien Rochon, Olindo Gratton, and Philippe Hébert, who is celebrated for his more than sixty wooden sculptures in the cathedral.
  4. Stained Glass Windows: The cathedral boasts a series of stained-glass windows, including a set made by Guido Nincheri of Montreal, depicting the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary.
  5. Side Altars: Two splendid side altars, dedicated to the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Virgin, showcase exquisite craftsmanship with sculpted wood, gold leaf, and precious stones.
  6. Treasures of the Cathedral: The cathedral houses a collection of sacred vessels, liturgical vestments, old silverware, and antique oil paintings, mainly of Italian origin, including golden chalices and a ciborium richly decorated with precious stones and enamels.

Fun Facts:

  1. Artistic Legacy: Philippe Hébert, one of the cathedral’s sculptors, was initially planning to move to the United States for work but stayed to create his greatest sculptural ensemble in the cathedral.
  2. Historical Windows: The first series of stained-glass windows installed in 1879 were made by the English glassworker Horwood, featuring geometrical motifs and vivid colors.
  3. Iconographic Innovation: The sanctuary’s iconography is a blend of medieval tradition and the neo-Gothic movement, making it both traditional and innovative.
  4. Shared Craftsmen: Many craftsmen who worked on the cathedral also contributed to the Parliament Buildings, showcasing a shared heritage of craftsmanship in Ottawa.

As a free activity in Ottawa, visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is not just a tour; it’s an immersive experience into the heart of the city’s artistic and spiritual life. This architectural gem invites you to appreciate the beauty and depth of Ottawa’s heritage, making it an unforgettable part of your journey.

For more information: Architecture and Art – Notre Dame Cathedral – Ottawa (

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