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“The Outside and the Inside Match”

Parliament Hill and Buildings
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Ottawa City Tour by Land and Water
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Ranked #2 of 290 things to do in Ottawa
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Owner description: Three Gothic Revival-style buildings, located on a 170-foot bluff overlooking the Ottawa River, house the offices of the members of Parliament, the House of Commons and the Senate. Free guided tours delve into Canadian history and explain the workings of the political system.
Reviewed February 17, 2013

I've reviewed the Parliament Buildings separately from Parliament Hill because I feel that the former is specifically relating to the actual buildings, while the latter relates to the surrounding area.

The landscaping is not anything to write home about, but there are statues scattered everywhere that are interesting to look at. In addition, at the back there is a lovely gazebo (with not so lovely cobwebs that should get cleaned) where one can sit in the shade and admire the view of the river. Always assuming that it's not full. You are able to circumnavigate the Centre Block and get a close-up view of the Library as well. And the view of the river from the bluffs behind the Centre Block are only rivalled by actually going up the Peace Tower. Don't forget to visit the Peace Flame.

The small cat sanctuary that used to operate on the left/west side of the Hill closed this year.

Thank WildCanadian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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4,102 - 4,106 of 6,191 reviews

Reviewed February 17, 2013

Considering that this is the locus of federal political power as well as an architectural gem and a part of Canadian history, to my mind a visit to Ottawa isn't complete without a visit here.

A ticket is required for entry, but there is no cost (they have them to break up the crowds into manageable chunks). During the summer these can be obtained in a large tent erected to the right (east) side of the Centre Block--the rest of the year it's in the base of the Peace Tower. Be aware that tours will be in either English or French. The number of tickets in no way equals the number of people wanting to take the tour, so it's not a bad idea to show up early. Otherwise you may not be able to get in that day or your tour time will be several hours later--though there's enough to occupy one in the area that the second situation isn't irredeemable.

You will be run through a security scan not unlike that in an airport before being allowed into the building and it's generally quite a bottleneck. Once past the security check you will be able to go with your guide through the building.

The tour generally visits the House of Commons and the Senate. If one or both of the Houses is sitting, you will not be able to see the chamber(s). While this isn't usually a problem in the summer, if you're visiting any other time, it's a good idea to check the schedules. Also, remember that the security guards have a very strict idea of decorum and absolutely no sense of humour. The chambers are fairly extravagantly decorated and the stonework in them--as well as the entire building--is just astonishing.

The tour also generally goes to the Parliamentary Library, which is the round confectionary-looking extension at the back. The inside is also confectionary-looking, but in wood rather than in stone. Unfortunately, you cannot take pictures.

Finally, after the tour, you can visit the Peace Tower, which gives an excellent view up and down the Ottawa River, as well as the Gatineau Hills, Lowertown and Centretown Ottawa (mostly office towers for that last one). There is also a memorial chapel at the bottom for Canada's war dead.

One word about the Peace Tower: there is likely going to be a line because the elevator up and down is tiny. And they pack people in there, so if you're claustrophobic, it may not be the best idea.

We had an excellent tour guide who was informative and spoke well. Of course, that's always hit-or-miss, but when you get a good guide, it really does enhance the experience.

Thank WildCanadian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2013

A must see if visiting Ottawa, along with skating on the Rideau canal. The free tour is very informative, and the architecture is amazing. The library looks spectacular, both from the inside and out. You'll need to walk around to the back of Centre block to see what I mean. Make sure to take the elevator up to the top of the Peace tower, where you can get a great view of the city. There's airport like security to get into the building.

Thank Sens_fan_TO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2013

Although we had to wait an hour to get in, we were treated to a very informative tour of the House of Commons, the Senate and the spectacular library. We also got to visit the Vimy Room which is a memorial to all of Canada's war dead and it was very powerful. We went to the top of the Peace Tower which offered amazing views of Ottawa & Gatineau. And, best of all, it was free!

Thank Kai-HT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2013

Beautiful Architecture on a Clear Day. However, if you go inside, beware the "gaurds" can be rude, and flippant, if you breathe the worng way or move the wrong way

Thank WindsNWaters
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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