To most of us, the Saint Joseph’s Oratory is but a Montreal monument that helps us orient ourselves within the city relative to the large dome. But it turns out the Oratory is a place filled with interesting things to do and see; you can even make a day of it!
Did you know that every Sunday there is a free organ concert at 3:30pm in the Basilica? Probably not (we sure didn’t). We were lucky enough to get a taste of this concert and it was mind blowing. The organ is comprised of 5811 pipes that are as long as 32 feet. It’s pretty incredible and worth the visit.
Now, if you are making your way there on a Sunday, you might as well get there a little early to catch the Carillon recital at 2:30pm. A Carillon is the fancy term for those snazzy bells outside the Oratory. It’s so easy to just walk by them and think nothing of it, but in fact this is the only instrument of its kind in Quebec! Behind the scenes, there are highly qualified musicians hitting the nobs of this grand instrument to create musical harmony. Recitals take place every day of the week except Monday and Tuesday; check out the website for schedules.
If you’re following our little day plan, it’s safe to say at this point you’d likely be getting hungry (well, we would because well… food). There are picnic tables and designated eating areas where you can dive into the picnic you brought (never go anywhere without food) and catch some awesome views of the city.
After your done eating, you can take a walk through the gardens… yes there are gardens! Take a beautiful walk all the way to the fountain (you’ll recognize it from Instagram posts) before making your way back down. Trust us: it’s worth the exercise.
Regardless of your religious background, the Oratory is a Montreal landmark that has something for everyone. Check out the art and architecture of the basilica, roam the gardens, walk through the crypt, learn more about the history of the sacred space, visit their museum exhibit ($4 for students), or even just walk to the top balcony for some Instagram-worthy views. This is a really inexpensive way to spend the day being a tourist in your own city!
Check out their full website to get the times and schedules for concerts, recitals, mass, and the museum.
3800 Chemin Queen Mary, Montréal, QC H3V 1H6
Featured image by Ver Sepasi (@versepasi).