Citadelle of Quebec

Quebec City, Canada

The Citadelle of Quebec is an active military installation and official residence of both the Canadian monarch and the Governor General of Canada. It is located atop Cap Diamant, adjoining the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City. The citadel is the oldest military building in Canada, and forms part of the fortifications of Quebec City, which is one of only two cities in North America still surrounded by fortifications, the other being Campeche, Mexico.

The first fortifications in Quebec were built by the Governor General of New France Louis de Buade, and completed just in time for the Battle of Quebec in 1690.

After the British conquest in the second half of the 18th century, the problem of Quebec City's defences grew more acute. Fears of a potential French attempt to recapture the colony, concerns about a possible uprising by the local French population and war with the Americans forced the British to develop a new defensive strategy for the city. Between 1778 and 1783, during the American War of Independence, wooden redoubts and earthworks were constructed on Cap Diamant. The Citadel was not necessarily meant to be the central element in Quebec City's defences, but was designed to play more of a supporting role while at the same time serving as the corner stone of the system.

Having narrowly repelled the American invasion of Canada during the War of 1812, the British decided to re-examine their defensive strategy. The current fortress was constructed from 1820 to 1832. 

Soldiers of the British garrison did the lion's share of the construction work. The Citadel, which was also designed to serve as a barracks and arms depot, could house between 1,000 and 1,500 soldiers and their equipment. It was rare, however, for the full complement of troops to be stationed there. In mid-19th century Quebec City, the British garrison was split between the Citadel, the Jesuit Barracks (where City Hall stands today), and Artillery Park.

The Citadel's role has evolved over time and although it was never tested in battle, it has been continuously occupied by the military throughout its history. In the years following its completion, changes were made to the defensive system in Quebec City and the surrounding area. For example, the guns on the bastions were replaced by more modern artillery. Tensions during the American Civil War (1861-1865) spurred British authorities to strengthen the city's defences further. Between 1865 and 1871, three forts (including Fort No.1 in Lauzon) were built on the Lévis heights on the south shore to provide support for the Citadel.

Today the Citadelle remains an active garrison and since 1920 is home to the Royal 22e Régiment, the Canadian Forces' sole French-language regular force infantry regiment. The Citadelle is a National Historic Site of Canada. The site receives some 200,000 visitors annually.


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Founded: 1693
Category: Castles and fortifications in Canada


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dylan Soo (2 years ago)
My fourth time here and it never gets old despite how old it is. If only the walls could talk about the many stories that have gone on here over the last 200 plus years. This fortress is an amazing design of form and function. Protection from all sides and homes to both the Governor General and Commanding Officer. This is a great place to take in history and to remember those who fought for Canadian freedoms and rights. There are self guided tours at the moment with staff at flag posts to talk about the various aspects of the fortress. The base is still a working one so be mindful of them around. If you are lucky you can watch the changing of the guard at the front although before Covid there were 10 changes that were more granduer in the centre of the fortress. There is a gift shop and there are also washroom if you need them.
Nigel Peters (2 years ago)
How I wish I could give them more than 5 stars. The place was immaculately clean and the staff were fantastic. It is actually a military place where the actual Canadian military reside. You can do a self guided tour of the place for no cost - you cannot enter the majority of the buildings though. However you can see the change of guard which takes place everyday at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3 and 5pm. This is something you should not miss. Parking is free and it's very well organized. The staff is great and really helpful- they speak English too. For the guided tour it cost 40 dollars a family of four - individuals are I think 18 dollars. A guide takes you inside the Governor Generals house for 1 hour.Pictures can be taken inside here - other buildings don't allow. The tour is really interesting and informative- our guide Ffion was awesome. This place is located downtown old Quebec city and there are loads of things to do. Nearby is Plains of Abraham, Joan of Arc garden, cobblestone roads, bus tour and I believe the oldest hotel there - Frontenac
Iulian Turcanu (2 years ago)
Wow. We got really lucky and had the chance to meet Batisse 11th today, who, if I got the info correctly is up for retirement next year. Also, amazing sites, great guides and a really nice museum. And, yeah, the guards, my deepest respects to you, and the Canadian Armed Forces. BTW, this is a functional military facility, so don't expect to be able to wander around wherever. Still, more than an hour's worth of active exploring. Free parking available on site for visitors, 3 min walk to Plains of Abraham. Just go there.
The Travel Hacking Life (2 years ago)
Québec City is a pedestrian city par excellence. The main places to visit in Old Québec are less than a 20-minute walk from each other and safety is another of its characteristics, which can be felt both during the day and at night. At the top of Cap Diamant is the Citadel (La Citadelle), a historic fortress that is now a stronghold of the Canadian Armed Forces. The descent to the lower town is no less charming, between uneven cobblestone streets, with picturesque houses and stores. All in all, Quebec has a unique and striking style, which is preserved to the delight of visitors.
Chris (2 years ago)
Very informative tour. We enjoyed it a lot and Pierre Olivier was great. Liked his sense of humor. Would definitely recommend it. The museum was also really neat and interesting.
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