Ursuline Monastery

Quebec City, Canada

The Ursuline Monastery of Quebec City was founded by a missionary group of Ursuline nuns in 1639. It is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America. Today, the monastery serves as the General Motherhouse of the Ursuline Sisters of the Canadian Union. The community there also operates an historical museum and continues to serve as a teaching centre.

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Founded: 1639
Category: Religious sites in Canada

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nadine Benny (2 months ago)
Very interesting "slice of life", learning about the mission of the Ursulines and the day to day life of the boarders and nuns.
Enma Carreño (5 months ago)
Very impressive, I don't usually go into this kind of places but I was curious, the paintings and sculptures are so beautifuls, it was also interesting hearing about the ursulines and their history...
Brendarenda Berry (7 months ago)
We happened upon this chapel while walking around Old Quebec, and was glad we had. The collection of pre-french revolution paintings hung in the chapel for the public are worth the stop as is a glimpse into the Sisters Choir chapel. This side chapel has no access to the public but appears to have beautiful stained glass windows, gilded carved wood and spectacular dome. A quiet, bight and holy space, away from the hordes or tourists.
M Robson (11 months ago)
Very nice, small museum focusing on the role of the Ursulines in educating young woman in the early days of Quebec City and beyond. Interesting view into the lives of these young women who attended the monastery, some as boarders and some looking to join the order. Be sure to visit the lovely chapel across the street. The original monastery building appears to be there (also it burned a couple of times). Continue down to the school (ecole) to see. We walked into the courtyard as well.
Alice Wittmer (13 months ago)
Beautiful and informative museum for such a good price. It’s the perfect size and the info provided isn’t long and arduous. There is also an elevator as the museum is three floors, which helped my mom who has arthritis. Truly fascinating place. It was also very clean and each floor had its own bathroom.
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The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.