Parliament summer

10 Architectural wonders in Ottawa

Ottawa is host to many incredible and historical buildings that make up the city’s rich culture. During your next outing or visit to Ottawa, be sure to visit these 10 architectural wonders in Canada’s capital city.

Parliament Hill

Canada’s castle-like Parliament is located in downtown Ottawa near the historic ByWard Market neighbourhood and Sparks Street. It consists of four buildings — the West Block, the Centre Block, the East Block and the Library.

Nestled along the banks of the Ottawa River, the architectural wonder showcases a stunning blend of Gothic Revival and Victorian styles. The Peace Tower, built upon the Centre Block, boasts a clock gifted to Canada from the United Kingdom in 1927. 

When visiting Parliament Hill, be sure to spend some time at the Centennial Flame, located inside the Queen’s Gate in front of the Peace Tower. Originally meant to be only temporary, the monument was so beloved by Canadians, it now has a permanent place here. 

Home to Canada’s federal government, including the Senate, House of Commons and the iconic Peace Tower, Parliament Hill represents the heart of Canadian democracy. The grounds are a focal point for many celebrations, protests and gatherings. 

Château Laurier

The Fairmont Château Laurier, located along the Rideau Canal locks next to Parliament Hill, embodies timeless elegance and historical significance. 

Completed in 1912, this majestic hotel showcases a captivating blend of French Renaissance and neo-Gothic styles. Its picturesque turrets, steep gabled roofs and intricate stone carvings evoke a sense of Old World charm and sophistication. 

Over the years, the Château Laurier has welcomed dignitaries, royalty, celebrities and travellers from around the world, serving as a luxurious retreat. 

With its prime location overlooking the Rideau Canal and proximity to Parliament Hill, the Fairmont Château Laurier is a premier hotel destination.

Shaw Centre

The Shaw Centre is Ottawa’s leading convention centre, blending sleek contemporary design with functional elegance. Situated in the heart of the downtown core near the historic Rideau Canal, Confederation Park and the Parliament Buildings, this state-of-the-art convention centre boasts striking glass facades and dynamic geometric forms that command attention against Ottawa’s skyline. 

Designed to accommodate a wide range of events and gatherings, from international conferences to cultural exhibitions, the Shaw Centre offers a versatile and technologically advanced space. Its innovative design not only provides an inspiring backdrop for meetings and events but also seamlessly integrates with the surrounding urban landscape. 

Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum has both architectural ingenuity and the country’s rich military history, with striking design and poignant exhibits. 

Situated along the banks of the Ottawa River, this architectural wonder embodies a blend of modernity and reverence, with its dramatic angles, expansive windows and raw concrete façade.

Designed by esteemed architect Raymond Moriyama and opened in 2005, the museum's innovative architecture reflects its mission to honour and commemorate Canada's military heritage. Inside, immersive galleries showcase artifacts, multimedia displays and interactive exhibits that chronicle Canada's military contributions and sacrifices throughout history. 

National Gallery of Canada

Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie and opened in 1988, the National Gallery of Canada’s iconic structure features a stunning combination of geometric forms, glass pyramids and granite cladding, creating a striking juxtaposition to the city. 

The gallery’s grandeur is matched only by the masterpieces housed within, including an extensive collection of Canadian and international art spanning centuries. Inside, light-filled galleries provide an inspiring backdrop for exhibitions, while sweeping views of the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill offer moments of reflection and contemplation. 

Located in front of the National Gallery of Canada is Maman, a giant egg-carrying spider sculpture by artist Louise Bourgeois. Cast in bronze, this work of art was inspired by Bourgeois’ own mother and is truly something to behold.

Royal Canadian Mint

Located near Ottawa’s bustling downtown core, the Royal Canadian Mint fits seamlessly into the architecture styles of Parliament Hill and the Fairmont Château Laurier. The Mint was designed by the chief architect of Public Works, David Ewart. 

Its interior showcases state-of-the-art facilities for producing coins, medals and treasures. As one of the world's leading minting facilities, the Royal Canadian Mint isn’t only a symbol of national pride but also as a focal point for economic activity and cultural heritage. 

ByWard Market

Originally built in 1826, the ByWard Market Heritage Hall can be found at the centre of the ByWard Market neighbourhood. This heritage landmark houses a bustling indoor market offering fresh produce, gourmet foods and artisanal goods. 

As one of Canada's oldest and largest public markets, the ByWard Market is a cultural and culinary destination as well as a cherished architectural wonder, preserving Ottawa's rich history and fostering a sense of community.

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica

Captivating people with its majestic presence and intricate Gothic Revival design, the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, a Roman Catholic minor basilica, was constructed between 1841 and 1865. This historic landmark showcases stunning elements such as soaring spires, intricate stained-glass windows and ornate stone carvings, all meticulously crafted by skilled artisans of the era. 

As the oldest and largest church in Ottawa, the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica holds immense cultural and religious significance. Its awe-inspiring interior features a grand nave with richly decorated altars, magnificent sculptures and a breathtaking Casavant Frères pipe organ.

Laurier House

Built in the late 19th century, the elegant Victorian Laurier House served as the residence of two of Canada's most prominent Prime Ministers, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Its graceful exterior has a timeless charm and sophistication. Inside, you’ll be transported back in time as you explore the meticulously preserved rooms boasting period furnishings, original artworks and personal mementos belonging to its former residents. 

The grand estate is surrounded by lush gardens and historic landmarks, including nearby Rideau Hall and Parliament Hill.


As tensions rose during the Cold War, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker commissioned the Diefenbunker, a bunker for key members of the government and military to seek protection should there be a nuclear attack.

Located just outside of Ottawa in Carp, the Diefenbunker was built in secret from 1959 to 1961. Built 75 feet underground spanning 100,000 square feet, this is one of the world’s largest underground bunkers.

Its concrete structure, reinforced with steel and designed to withstand a nuclear blast, houses a labyrinth of rooms and corridors, including living quarters, communication facilities and even a CBC broadcasting studio.

You can experience the Diefenbunker for yourself with a guided tour. It’s also home to Escape the Diefenbunker, the world’s largest escape room!

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