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The capital of Québec, Québec City stands out as much for the stunning richness of its architectural heritage as for the beauty of its location. The Haute-Ville quarter covers a promontory more than 98m high, known as Cap Diamant, and juts out over the St. Lawrence River, which narrows here to a mere 1km. In fact, it is this narrowing of the river that gave the city its name: in Algonquian, kebec means "place where the river narrows."
The cradle of New France, Québec is a city whose atmosphere and architecture are more reminiscent of Europe than of America. The stone houses that flank its narrow streets and the many spires of its churches and religious institutions evoke the French Regime. In addition, the old fortifications of the Haute-Ville, the Parliament and the grand administration buildings attest eloquently to the importance of Québec in the history of the country. Indeed, its historical and architectural richness are such that the city and its historic surroundings were recognized by UNESCO in 1985 as a World Heritage Site, the first in North America.
Haute-Ville, or upper town, covers the plateau atop Cap Diamant. As the administrative and institutional centre, it is adorned with convents, chapels and public buildings whose construction dates back, in some cases, to the 17th century. The walls of Haute-Ville, dominated by the citadel, surround this section of Vieux-Québec and give it the characteristic look of a stronghold. These same walls long contained the development of the town, yielding a densely built-up bourgeois and aristocratic milieu.
Lieu Historique National des Fortifications-de-Québec , or the Fortifications-de-Québec National Historic Site. Québec City's first wall was built of earth and wooden posts. It was erected on the west side of the city in 1693 to protect Québec City from the Iroquois. Work on much stronger stone fortifications began in 1745, when England and France entered a new era of conflict. However, the wall was unfinished when the city was seized by the British in 1759. The British saw to the completion of the project at the end of the 18th century. Work on the citadel began in 1693 to a minor extent. However, the structure as we know it today was essentially built between 1820 and 1832.
Terrasse Dufferin, which overlooks the St. Lawrence, provides an interesting sensation compared to the pavement we are used to. It was built in 1879 at the request of the governor general of the time, Lord Dufferin.
Château Frontenac (1 Rue des Carrières). The first half of the 19th century saw the emergence of Québec City's tourism industry when the romantic European nature of the city began to attract growing numbers of American visitors. In 1890, the Canadian Pacific Railway company, under Cornelius Van Horne, decided to create a chain of distinguished hotels across Canada. The first of these hotels was the Château Frontenac, named in honour of one of the best-known governors of New France,
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