Montreal, Quebec’s French speaking city of design, is brimming with majestic churches: a blend of old European, Gothic and French colonial architecture. Our local insiders have scoured the city’s neighbourhoods – from Cotes des Neiges to Old Montreal – to bring you the best and most beautiful options.
Saint Joseph's Oratory
Chances are you’ve already spotted it from the distance; its iconic green dome dominates Montreal’s skyline. Or perhaps you’ve heard it from afar? The organ can certainly crank up the sound, especially during concerts. With over 2m visitors every year, it’s safe to say you won’t be alone when navigating the sanctuary’s gargantuan basilica, chapels and crypt – where the church’s founder, Saint André of Montréal, is buried. You can climb the 283 steps on your feet or knees as an act of pilgrimage, or visit the outdoor Garden of the Way, dotted throughout with statues and pockets of dark, shadowy woodland. Recommended by local insider Caitlin Stall-Paquet
Surrounded by skyscrapers in downtown Montreal, this majestic masterpiece may be familiar, albeit out of place, to travelled visitors as it’s a smaller-scale replica of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Construction started in 1870 and it was the first building in Montreal to cost more than US$1m. With its trademark copper roof and facade lined with stone replicas of the apostles, this cathedral is one of Montreal’s finest. It’s also home to a collection of ornate paintings by Georges Delfosse. Recommended by local insider Caitlin Stall-Paquet
Built in 1859 on St. Catherine’s Street (now a commercial hub), this Neo-Gothic structure still stands today as anAnglicanGothic Revivalcathedral, with religious services led by the Anglican Diocese of Montreal. The choir is nothing short of angelic, with performances taking place every Sunday. Recommended by local insider Tess Boissonneault
This stately church, located downtown, was built in the mid-19th century to accommodate the arrival of Irish immigrants seeking a place of worship. The ornate interior – specifically the fleur-de-lys and shamrocks – blends French-Canadian culture with Irish traits. It’s also where Québécois poet Émile Nelligan was baptized on Christmas Day back in 1879. Recommended by local insider Tess Boissonneault
Built in 1771 – over the ruins of an older chapel – the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel is one of Montreal’s oldest official churches. Located port side, it was fondly nicknamed the Sailors’ Church by locals, as the 19th-century sailors arriving in the Old Port used it as a pilgrimage site. Today, visitors can climb the chapel’s belvedere for panoramic views of the harbour, or visit the Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum to learn about the church’s founder and Montreal’s first teacher who arrived in Montreal in 1653. Recommended by local insider Tess Boissonneault