Visiting Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa

Visiting Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica is one of the main places to visit in Ottawa, and you shouldn’t miss its particular architecture. The construction started in 1841 with a Neo-Classic architecture, but the parish changed hands and a Neo-Gothic architecture was used for the upper parts of the church. The building was finished in 1865 but the interiors were not done before 1885 [Wikipedia]. It became a Historic Monument in 1978 and it now is the oldest standing church in Ottawa [Official website].

As for all of my articles, you can click on the images (including the one at the top) to see full-screen. I highly recommend you do so, because you will see many more details, especially in this one.

How to get there

The Cathedral Basilica is a bit away from the main attractions in the city, but it’s close enough. It’s on Sussex Drive, in front of the National Gallery of Canada, behind the Major’s Hill park. If you’re already Downtown, it’s easy to walk to. Just go North from the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, the big castle on Rideau St that you can’t miss.

Faith & Souvenir | Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica - Ottawa, ON

Faith & Souvenir | Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica – Ottawa, ON

What to expect

It’s a church, so be respectful, either inside or outside. Check out the mass hours on the official website to avoid them. They won’t tolerate photographers during mass. Even if it’s not mass time, there will be people praying, so be quiet and try not to disturb them. If you have a silent shutter mode, try to use it. Shooting inside will mean low-light conditions.

What to bring

Don’t take too much stuff in a church: it will prevent you from making noise, and a small backpack makes it easier to navigate. However, I didn’t see any signs forbidding tripods and no-one told me to stop using mine. So you should definitely bring your tripod to shoot inside. Wide-angle is pretty much mandatory to get a wide views of the church.

Up | Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica - Ottawa, ON

Up | Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica – Ottawa, ON

Shooting tips

It’s the perfect place for HDR! Lots of details, wide dynamic range, beautiful colors… (see image below). But you can also shoot beautiful single frames (see image above).

If you don’t have a tripod, crank up the ISO up to at least 1600 to get a reasonable shutter speed. If you want to shoot HDR or get a better quality, a tripod will be necessary.

Don’t shoot only the obvious wide-angles. There are many details on the walls, the windows and the ceiling that you can shoot. For the image above, I actually put my camera on the floor, towards the ceiling and used a timer. After 2-3 tries, I managed to get this shot. So look up, down and on the sides!

Wonders of Faith (II) | Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica - Ottawa, ON

Wonders of Faith (II) | Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica – Ottawa, ON

Last word

Again, it’s a church, so be respectful to others, even if you’re not religious. Minimize your noise and your movements and you’ll be fine.

As usual, let me know what you think!

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