La Citadelle de Québec is a working military base located just outside of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Québec. It was originally built in the 17th century as part of the protective walls of the city. The current fort was built between 1820 and 1831 by the British as protection from a possible attack by the United States. The Citadelle is accessible via a short tunnel that leads to its entrance.
At the entrance are the guards of the Citadelle. The Changing of the Guard can be seen daily at 10am from the end of June until Labour Day (the first Monday in September).
The entrance leads to the gift shop, where tour tickets can be purchased. Guided tours are offered in French and English for CAD$16 (as of September 2016). The tours last about an hour and visit all of the main parts of the base including a museum and medal gallery.
The tour began just outside the gift shop at the parade ground. The guide started with the history of the fort and described the building nearest to us, the kitchen. He also told us about the motto of Québec, “Je me souviens”, which means “I remember”. The motto is written in flowers on a small ridge with a cannon sitting above it. It was placed there to always remind of the glories, traditions, lessons, and even misfortunes of the past.
Next, we walked to the Ancienne poudrière (old powder magazine) built in 1750. It now houses the Musée du Royal 22e Régiment. The Royal 22e Régiment is a French-speaking Canadian regiment that has won significant battles for Canada and is know for it’s bravery. The Citadelle has been their home base since 1922.
Outside of the museum we were shown a Sherman tank and a gun confiscated from the Germans. We were also taken to a lookout point to get a panoramic view of the fort. Notice how all of the rooftops of the Citadelle are covered in grass for camouflage.
From there, we walked back towards the parade ground past the Royal 22e Régiment headquarters
Next, we walked past the Governor General’s residence, the official residence of the Queen of England in Canada, and to another lookout point for a nice view of Québec.
The tour continued with a quick walk through the L’ancienne Prison militaire (former military prison), which now houses a medal gallery. It concluded with a look at the chapel and a memorial cross dedicated to soldiers who died in combat in 1917.
I highly recommend spending some time at this historic landmark. The guide did a great job enthusiastically telling us about the history of the fort and some stories about the base. It was an hour well spent.