I enjoy visiting Canada's capital city of Ottawa. It's small enough to be easy to walk around in and is full of interesting places to visit. And being in Canada, everyone is always painfully polite.
The premier spot to visit in Ottawa is Parliament, home of the Canadian federal government. It consists of a Center block (where the House of Commons and Senate are located), and the East and West blocks (office and administrative buildings). The buildings sit on a hill overlooking the Ottawa River. They are of gothic revival architectural style and the complex was opened in 1866, about a year before Confederation. In 1916, a fire destroyed all but the Parliamentary Library, but the building was fairly quickly rebuilt.
We've previously discussed visits to Peace Tower and the Parliamentary Library. Today I'm sharing some highlights of a tour we took of the center block a few years back, and some of the sights inside and outside of the building complex.
Guided tours are available (although have been temporarily suspended because of CoVid). As I recall, there was no admission fee, but you need to get a timed ticket and undergo a security check. There was a que to get in, and this allowed us to get a look at some of the outside features of the building, including an interesting assortment of exterior carvings and grotesques....
The guide walks you through the Center block where you can enjoy some of the fine architectural features. The building is made of Tyndall stone, a unique limestone quarried in Manitoba and transported here for use in the construction.
The guide pointed out many of the highlights. Some of these include:
* The House of Commons: where debate occurs and laws are passed. The mace shown below is a copy of the one used by the British Parliament
*The Senate: The upper chamber is, in my humble opinion, much lovelier and more interesting than House, especially the ceiling. The "throne" in the Senate is where the Speech from the Queen is read, a requirement to open a session of government. It is usually read by the Governor General who functions as the Queen's representative in Canada, but if the Queen is visiting she reads the speech herself.
There is a lot of art in Parliament, much of it related to the British Royal Family or famous Canadian heroes. Here is a sampling:
As of this writing, the Center Block is closed for remodeling but will hopefully open soon. Equally hopeful, the CoVid restrictions will be lifted so that Canadian citizens can explore the place where the laws the rule their lives are passed.
The grounds of Parliament are also well worth exploring. The views of the Ottawa River are terrific and again there are many monuments of important political figures who helped shape the country.