Destination Information - Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
The ‘cradle of New France' and the bastion of French culture in North America today, Quebec City is the most charming city on the continent. Nowhere else is the past so well preserved in an ensemble of 17th- to 19th-century buildings, wrapped tight in the fortifications of the only walled city north of Mexico.
A popular destination for visitors, with its horse-drawn calèches rattling down narrow streets between grey-stone buildings, Old Quebec also won recognition from UNESCO, which declared it a World Heritage Site in 1985.
Located in the eastern portion of massive Canada, the city's fortunes are largely due to its geography and history. The walled Upper Town sits atop the strategic Cap Diamant, overlooking the spot where the St Lawrence River narrows (known as the kebec to the original Algonquin inhabitants).
The view from the river is dominated by the towering copper-roofed Château Frontenac; the wide wooden boardwalk known as Dufferin Terrace running along in front of it is often the first place visitors head to when they enter the Upper Town.
At the foot of Cap Diamant and linked by a funicular, the Lower Town was the spot where Samuel de Champlain founded the city in 1608, some 73 years after Jacques Cartier was the first European to ‘discover' the area. Today, the buildings in the Lower Town's Place Royale have been restored to their original appearance - at a cost of around one million Canadian dollars per house.
With Confederation, Quebec City became the capital of the province of Quebec in 1867. The National Assembly meets in the Hôtel de Parlement, on Parliament Hill, which runs parallel to the Plains of Abraham, separated by the lively Grande Allée.
Tourism and government may be the most visible industries in the city but there are a growing number of high-tech firms. Some industry has also survived from the earliest days when the port was one of the busiest in North America, ferrying furs and later timber and wood pulp to markets overseas.
In 2008, Quebec City will be celebrating its 400th anniversary, and plenty of special events will take place to mark the occasion, making this a great time to visit.