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The magnificent province of Nova Scotia looks like a long peninsula, connected to the continent by nothing more than a narrow strip of land known as the Chignecto Isthmus. The sea is never far away in "Canada's Ocean Playground." In fact, no part of the territory of Nova Scotia is more than 49km from the water, be it the Atlantic Ocean, the Northumberland Strait or the Bay of Fundy. The proximity of the coast has shaped the character and lives of Nova Scotians as much as it has the splendid maritime landscape. The coastline, stretching hundreds of kilometres, is punctuated with harbours and bays, their shores dotted with fishing villages and towns. What is most striking about Nova Scotia is the way its architectural heritage blends so harmoniously into the natural setting. From the tiniest fishing village to Halifax, the capital, there are few places where the architecture of the houses and buildings, often dating back to the 19th century, does not fit in beautifully with the surrounding landscape.
There are countless reasons to visit Nova Scotia and many splendid sights to discover here. Everyone has heard of the legendary beauty of Cape Breton Island, whose mountainous landscape, with its magnificent cliffs overhanging the deep blue sea, is among the most spectacular in Eastern Canada. But Cape Breton is only one of many scenic regions in Nova Scotia. For example, tucked away along the Lighthouse Route, which runs from Halifax to Yarmouth, is a multitude of picturesque villages steeped in history, such as Peggy's Cove, Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. Farther along, near the Bay of Fundy, visitors can explore the former Acadia, whose rich farmlands formed the heart of the Acadian territory from 1605 to 1755. Equally delightful is Halifax, the beautiful, vibrant capital of Nova Scotia and the largest city in the Atlantic Provinces.
A city with a rich architectural heritage, built at the foot of a fortified hill overlooking one of the longest natural harbours in the world, Halifax is a delightful place to visit. The city's location, which is outstanding from both a navigational and a strategic point of view, has been the deciding factor in its growth. In 1749 the British began developing the site, which had long been frequented by Micmac Amerindians.
Halifax is now the largest urban centre in the Maritime provinces, with a population of over 330,000 (including the inhabitants of its twin city, Dartmouth). It has a more varied, even cosmopolitan, appearance than the rest of the Maritimes, and boasts several superb museums and a whole slew of other attractions. Visitors are sure to enjoy strolling around Halifax and scouting out its restaurants, bustling streets and wide assortment of shops.
The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site (Citadel Hill; 426-5080) is the most striking legacy of the military history of Halifax, a city that has played an important strategic role in the defense of the East Coast ever since it was founded in 1749. The fourth British fort to occupy this site, this imposing star-shaped structure overlooking the city was built between 1828 and 1856. It was the heart of an impressive network of defenses intended to protect the port in the event of an attack, which incidentally never took place.
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (1741 Hollis, opposite Province House; 424-7542) is housed in the Dominion Building, a fine example of the city's rich architectural heritage, erected at the end of the last century. Its four flours of modern exhibition space contains the most remarkable art collection in Nova Scoti
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