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When it comes to architecture in Quebec City, the place to start is the Fairmont Château Frontenac hotel (locally known as Château Frontenac for decades), the most recognizeable landmark in the city. This giant luxury hotel, which resembles a castle (inspired by the Loire castles in France), towers over the city on a hill (Cap-Diamant) and often appears in promotional literature about the city. Its roofs, as is the case with several other buildings in Old Québec, are made of copper, the best materiel to resist the harsh winters and the high daily variations in temperature encountered in the city. The Château Frontenac's architect was the New Yorker Edward Price, considered the father of the style châteaux ("castle style"), as a few buildings in Québec City and in Montreal bear this distinctive mark.
Be sure to stop in Old Québec. This part of the city resembles the historic walking areas that can be found in Europe's most classic cities, with plenty of shops, European-style eateries, sidewalk cafés, parks and more, all in a convenient, accessible location. There are nearly 30 outdoor staircases in Quebec City, all of them named, contributing to the resemblance with ... Edinburgh, Scotland! The oldest one is the "Escalier Casse-Cou" ("Neck Breaker Staircase") between the Petit-Champlain neighbourhood and the Terrasse Dufferin, by the Château Frontenac; it appears on architectural plans dating back to 1660. The longest one is the "Escalier du Cap-Blanc" staircase, leading to the Plaines of Abraham, with its 398 stairs. Old Quebec is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site; almost half the buildings there were built before 1850.
Along with the city's museums, there are also some magnificant old churches to visit while in Quebec. Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral(inspired by the St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, parish church of King George III in London) is about 200 years old, while the church at the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital , founded in 1637, is the oldest one north of Mexico. The historic Église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires also merits a look, having been rebuilt several times. Also stop by the Couvent des Ursulines (Ursuline Convent) for a better look at some of the early architecture of Quebec; the chapel and the museum are worth a visit. In Quebec's Lower Town ( Basse-ville), parts of the Place Royale date back to the late 1600s (55 buildings burned to the ground on the night of August 4-5, 1682), while the Old Port area of Québec also has interesting architecture.The word that best describes Québec City and its architecture is "romantic". The picturesque old cobblestone streets are sprinkled with historic buildings, churches and shops, with the magnificent St. Lawrence River as the backdrop. Surrounding this setting are the stone walls or fortifications which the French built hundreds of years ago to protect the city from being attacked. Though one could see the influence of French settlers here and there, the resemblance with Edinburgh's architecture is sometimes stunning, and reflects the period of time when the English were dominant. Québec City is the only city remaining today in North America that has a stone barrier surrounding it. It is fascinating to catch a glimpse of a history that has been so totally preserved. It is quite interesting to see a portion of Québec City's architecture seemingly stopped in time, combined with the growth and construction of contemporary buildings. There are numerous buildings, churches and homes made of stone, still standing today in all their vintage elegance. There are not many cities in Canada—or in the world—that have an architecture as diverse as Québec City. No fewer than 11 architectural styles from the 17th century to modern times have been identified in Québec City. Which other city is surrounded by a barrier of stone walls, built hundreds of years ago? Which other city can delight in that, as well as possess a collection of enchanting shops like those that line the Rue du Petit-Champlain (after the founder of the city, Samuel de Champlain)? This street is said to be the oldest street in North America, and is indeed a vibrant little shopping district. Which other city has all this, plus buildings ranging from the Classical Revival style of the 1700's, to Neo Classicism (1820-1850) to the Art Deco period (The Price building, Palais Montcalm, Clarendon Hotel), to today's modern construction and everything in between. Québec City is that city ... with each of these elements sharing the same land and co-existing together, and the outcome is magnificent.
Additionally, Québec City has an exceptionally unique architectural accomplishment, the Ice Hotel . This is a bona-fide hotel constructed entirely of ice, where accomondations are available during the winter months. What makes Québec's Ice Hotel even more interesting is the architecture of it changes every winter. Québec City's romantic architecture encompases everything from stone to ice and so much more in between.