During my vacation in Ottawa, Le Brother and I decided to visit the oldest church in Ottawa.
Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica is a beautiful church that sits almost right next to Parliament. It’s a great place to visit when you are in Ottawa and can clear the time from your schedule. It is directly across from the National Art Gallery and a few steps from the Royal Mint, so it really is a great addition to any outing.
Notre Dame offers guided tours all year round, but if you are a group of 20 or more, they request that you call and book a slot just to make it easier for their guides. Tours are given in either French or English. During the months of June, July, and August, tours are free! FREE! Make sure you jump on that offer because I’m not actually sure how much the cost is during the rest of the year. Most underground parking structures provide free parking on Saturday and Sunday as well. Le Brother knows of a few close to downtown just because of his engineering job, so we always park at the same place which is within walking distance of Parliament, Chateau Laurier, Notre Dame, Byward Market, the place to meet up for a ghost walk, a bus that will tour the city and drive into/around the harbour, and many, many, more touristy things. It fills up quickly though so make sure you get there before 10:30ish to get a spot. Earlier if it’s a holiday weekend.
Tours in Notre Dame usually last around 45ish minutes, however, ours was a very precise 30-minutes. Our guide kept looking at this watch from time to time making sure he wasn’t going over. There was a wedding party coming in and we had to make sure we were done before they started setting up. As we were leaving, guests were already arriving.
You can get married in Notre Dame, but it comes at a price. The next day, while telling one of Le Brother’s friends at his church about our outing, this friend said that it’s $1200 for 2 hours in the church. Those 2 hours include set up, a Catholic wedding ceremony, plus clean-up. Now, I’ve never been to a Catholic wedding ceremony, but I do know they are kind of long, so that seems like it’s pushing the time just a little bit.
Notre Dame is actually the oldest church in all of Ottawa, and it’s legit the most beautiful church I have ever been in. A few things to remember when looking at the following pictures: everything inside the church is carved from wood. Yes, carved from wood. Those marble pillars? Wood with an overlay on them to make them look like marble. The beams on the ceiling? Wood. The altar area? Wood. The saints in the sanctuary? Wood. The side altars? Wood. Everything. Is. Made. Out. Of. Wood.
Also, a little fun fact for you: there are 13,000 stars on the ceiling which were applied by hand (obviously). There is no reason for the number 13,000. They just started at one end, and when they reached the other side there was 13,000. They were just refreshed a little while ago so they are nice and vibrant when we went.
The Cathedral is allowed to call itself a Basilica because it has relics on site. At Notre Dame, there are the bones of a martyr. They took the bones and put them inside a wax body, but it’s only about 3 feet long, so it looks very weird. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but it was actually kind of creepy. Just the way that the wax face was designed was a little offputting for me.