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Ottawa

Parliament Hill free

1 Wellington Street | Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6, Canada | Official website
Parliament Hill Photo info
abdallahh/Flickr
  • Type: Sightseeing, Tours
  • Time to Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
Overall Rating: 4.5 (4.5)
Value: 5.0 (5.0)
Facilities: 4.0 (4.0)
Atmosphere: 4.5 (4.5)
About these ratings

Acting as the anchor of Downtown Ottawa, these three neo-Gothic structures are hard to miss. Like its mother country -- England -- Canada is governed by a parliamentary democracy, and it is here on the Hill that decisions are made on how to run the country. But just like the city itself, the Parliament buildings put tourists on a pedestal, catering to their whims with free guided tours, concerts, cultural exhibitions and even a nightly Sound and Light Show.

Several areas are open to the public, the most notable being the Centre Block. From here, you can head upward to the observation deck of the Peace Tower for a bird's-eye view of the city, or pay tribute to Canadians killed during military service in the Memorial Chamber (tours of these areas are self-guided). On the central lawn, you can observe the vibrant Changing of the Guard ceremony, which occurs every day in summer at 10 a.m. To the north is the octagonal Library of Parliament, with ornate galleries and colorful windows that shelter hundreds of priceless books. Recent visitors agree that the Centre Block and the Library of Parliament are well worth a visit. One TripAdvisor user writes: "We were more than impressed with Parliament Hill and the tour of the main building. The library had an almost ethereal beauty and it alone was worth the tour … It made us immensely proud of Canada and her people -- and we're from the U.S.!"

But wait, there's more. Flanking either side of the Centre Block are the East and West blocks. Although the West Block isn't open to the public, the East Block is -- and is home to the Privy Council Chamber, the Governor General's office and several other historic rooms. You can also tour the Supreme Court of Canada, which flanks the western edge of Parliament Hill. You're welcome to tour the East Block between July and September.

Bordering both the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal, the Parliament Buildings welcome visitors year round, although tour times are subject to change depending on the month.  Free guided tours last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. For more information, check out the Parliament Hill website and the Supreme Court website.

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