The capital of Canada, Ottawa is as charming as its Victorian architecture. The most prominent structure or should I say the heart of Ottawa city is the Parliament.
The political hub of the city is a gorgeous structure sitting on the top of a hill on banks of river Ottawa. Three magnificent structures adorned around the sides of a huge lawn. The heart of the parliament is the Center block while the arms on two sides are the East and West block.
There are free bilingual tours in English and French available for the Center and the East block. Since we visited in summer which is the peak tourist season, we had to go in an hour early of opening to get tickets for desired time slots.
If you are awed by the magnificence of the outdoor then wait to see the grandeur of indoor.
We began our tour from the East block, office of the parliamentarians. After a strenuous screening, we entered the building into a grand staircase. Climbing up our way we were eagerly waiting to explore the 150-year-old history. It was impressive to see that rooms of famous personalities from the 19th century like first Prime minister, Governor-general, have been restored with some original furniture to give a glimpse into their opulence.
It was fascinating to hear the stories of these icons and their offices. The more powerful the personality, bigger would be his office space and luxurious the upholstery. While, not only the space and furniture would show the prominence, but the design and detailed work on the ceiling or the placement of the fireplace as well. Isn’t that amazing???
Continuing our quest, we made our way to the Center block – the heart of the Parliament. A two-level security check is required to go in. The center block houses the Senate, the House of Commons (Members of parliament) and the beautiful library.
House of Commons
Beginning the tour, we entered a big hall with marble interiors, intricate carvings on the pillars and beautiful stained-glass window. The hall leads to the House of Commons, whose members are democratically elected and called Members of Parliament. The chamber is decorated in green color. The governing party sits on one side of the speaker with Prime Minister in the front row while the opposition on other. The interiors are decorated with stained-glass windows on both sides depicting flora and fauna of the states.
The interiors of the Senate are red in color to represent the British monarchy. There are many symbols in the Senate chamber and at its entrance representing the monarchy. In fact, there are chairs for the monarch and their consort behind the speaker’s chair. Interestingly, the ceiling at the entrance has stained glass depicting many royal symbols.
There are paintings of monarchs in the foyer and the guide told us that the painting of Queen Victoria was partially burned in a fire and the burnt portion was cut and framed back.
The most exquisite room in the Center block is the library which welcomes you with a huge white marble statue of Queen Victoria. The most striking feature of the library is the extensive use of wood with ornate carvings. The circular room with huge dome-shaped ceiling and intricate woodwork is an architectural marvel. We were awed by its beauty and wondered if we could sit and read there.
Walking in the arched hallways, admiring the detailed carvings and artwork, reminiscing the told and untold stories, we felt lucky to have witnessed the 150-year-old historical marvel up and close.
Another way to explore the Parliament and history is the Light and Sound show during summer nights. We visited when Canada was celebrating 150 years and witnessed a spectacular show depicting the journey of Canada. The spectacular visuals with bold narration and impressive background music leave you spellbound. The timing of the show varies from every month from July to September. I would highly recommend it but do take blankets and chairs to sit and enjoy the adventure.
P.S. The Center block will get closed in 2018 for about 10 years as a part of the rehabilitation project.