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26 April 2010 @ 09:47 pm
And now for something different...  
Working in downtown Ottawa has its benefits. It is a beautiful part of the city, with many old buildings and open parks. The combination of old architecture, modern buildings, and abundant green space fascinates me, and sometimes when the mood takes me, I enjoy spending my lunch hours exploring the downtown streets, camera in hand, looking just like any other tourist.

The gem of Ottawa's downtown core is unquestionably the beautiful and majestic Parliament Hill, which combines the best of the old architecture and beautiful gardens that I love. Every Canadian is familiar with the image of the Center Block of Parliament with the Canadian flag flying high above the Peace Tower. However, Parliament Hill has much more to offer than the Peace Tower and the Centennial Flame at the entrance to the grounds. Statues of two queens (Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II) and several Canadian statesmen, the Canadian Police Memorial, the cat sanctuary, and the Victoria Tower Bell are some of the sights that can be seen on the Hill. On Friday I spent my lunch hour there, wondering what else I might see to interest me.



Trees and shrubs were just coming into bloom along the walkway that circles the top of the bluff, and I even saw some purple lilac buds.



The old library behind the Center Block is my favourite building, and I never tire of looking at it or photographing it. It is the last remaining part of the original Centre Block, and the only one to have survived the devastating fire of 1916. The Library’s architects felt that only a Gothic Revival building “could be adapted to a site at once so picturesque and so grand", and I couldn't agree more.



Exterior Entrance to the library


There are numerous tulip beds on Parliament Hill, all blooming with vibrant colour. I love the pastel pinks of these ones at the base of Queen Victoria's monument.



Flowers for a Queen


I took a walk around the Center Block, paying close attention to the fanciful figures carved on the building. The Peace Tower alone is decorated with approximately 370 stone carvings, including gargoyles, grotesques, bosses and friezes. Grotesques are fanciful creatures which do not direct water away from the building, as gargoyles do. Here are some of the many interesting figures I discovered adorning the Center Block and Peace Tower:









The term boss is used to describe an ornamental projecting block that can be found at the end of a moulding or an arch. This boss is carved from olive green sandstone from Wallace, Nova Scotia.



I loved the decorative carvings on this entrance, until I took a closer look and realized I was being watched!






The carvings on the main entrance to the Peace Tower include the symbols and emblems of Canada, England, France, and the provinces and territories. While it was taking shape in 1937, journalists were already comparing the elegant main archway to the most beautiful portals of Europe.




I find the stone carvings endlessly fascinating, and wonder how many visitors actually take the time to notice these wonderful carvings when they visit the Parliament buildings.




Parliament Hill is always worth a visit in the summer, and I am happy that it is only a short walk away from work.



 
 
 
Xray Is As Xray Doesxraytheenforcer on May 3rd, 2010 12:07 am (UTC)
oooh! I love those architectural details. :)