Woman On Top

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… On top of the city, of course. What else were you thinking, seriously? I know I’m French, but still!

On Saturday, I took a walk on Parliament Hill, downtown Ottawa, and decided to go up in the Peace Tower. At 300 feet (almost 100 m) tall, the tower was built to commemorate the end of WW1. I usually go visit the Parliament once or twice a year, more if I bring my students there. I like the place: the brain of the country and also a beautiful heritage building. Despite the post 9/11 extensive security, visits are still free, including regular guided tours in both French and English. As long as they go through security scanning, visitors can also choose to visit the Parliament by themselves. I find that great. I love the fact that everyone can have free and clear access to a symbol of democracy. I appreciate that Ottawa refused to live in a state of fear.

The Business District

The Business District

The Entrance of the Parliament

The Entrance of the Parliament

The Hill is home to concerts, show, ceremonies and a daily flurry of MP’s. This Saturday was pretty quiet though, mostly because it was way below 0C. After a 5 minutes security check, I climbed a few stairs and arrived in front of the elevator’s door to go up.

The Peace Tower

The Peace Tower

The Clock on Top of the Tower

The Clock on Top of the Tower

The Peace Tower is quite majestic. Once up there, if you look up you can see the big clock (built in the US!) on top of the tower.

View of Quebec

View of Quebec

National Art Gallery

National Art Gallery

Here are a few views of Ottawa: the National Art Galleries and the numerous bridges to Quebec, and the Museum Of Civilization on Quebec’s side.

The US Embassy

The US Embassy

National Art Gallery

National Art Gallery

The US Embassy and the National Art Galleries area.

Some Parliament buildings and a view of Ottawa’s business district.

Gargoyle In Front of the Parliament

Gargoyle In Front of the Parliament

The East Block

The East Block

I spent about an hour up there, admiring the clear view. Isn’t it nice? Just curious… can you visit your own Parliament, wherever you live? In France, the Élysée Palace isn’t open to public…


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. JUST BEAUTIFUL!! Your picture taking skills are EXCELLENT!

    I would love to see and experience something like that. Not that much around here that’s worth viewing.

  2. Well, I guess I’ll take whatever woman on top I can get. 😯

    And, awesome photos. Man, I really want to go there now … I have this thing about old architecture like that. And the view is absolutely awesome.

    Of course we can visit our “Parliment!” … although it’s a bit stifled of late. I plan to go again some time soon so I can take good pictures of the interior, instead of really crappy ones. 🙄

  3. If you have a tracker in your website, I am curious as to whether you get an increase in people visiting you searching for something radically different from the Parliament.

    Anyway, to answer your question, the Philippines doesn’t have a parliamentary system, so I guess the answer to that is no. I don’t even think people can tour the Presidential Palace, but I am not sure.

    I am not well-versed in politics, so I don’t know the equivalent of Parliament here in the US, but if it is the US Capitol, then yes, people can visit it, with guided tours. I did that back in December, and the place was very exquisite. Lots of good statues and murals to shoot. With a camera, of course.

  4. SilverNeurotic on

    Oh, those pictures are gorgeous. I’m starting to think I should take a vacation to Canada in the near future…except, possibly in the summer.

  5. Great photos! One of the most moving things I have ever seen was right after Sept 11 2001. We left Temsicaming & drove down to Ottawa on our way back to Kansas City. On the way we started noticing that Canadian flags were at half mast. It was amazing to see all of Ottawa had lowered their flags.

    Of course, then W had to be an ass & scander all that goodwill away.

  6. Spyder, a lot of that goodwill is still here, it will just take a more appropriate President put in charge, to restore it to the mainstream.

    Yes Congress is the American equivalent to our Parliament on the Hill. And the Prime Minister’s residence is not open for tours unlike the White House, which can have them if you get a letter from your local American Congressperson (Canadians out of luck). I do think there are Rideau Hall tours though, which is our head’s of state home technically anyway. The grounds certainly have tours.

    Nice pictures, I should have gone up the tower while I lived in Ottawa one Winter. Instead I saw it in Summer. My girlfriend was in the tower during the Changing of the Guard, which was a fluke not supposed to happen. I think there was a fire alarm that threw routine off.

    I know someone who went into Parliament with a pocket knife in their bag, by mistake, and didn’t get caught :-O

  7. In UK, the Houses of Parliament in Westminster (London) are open to the public, and I’m mortified to confess I’ve never visited;-(

    Your post has now kicked me up the butt and I’ll toddle over to check ’em out soon;-D

    (Oooh, and I love the pic of unicorn.)

  8. Wow! Impressive pictures. In Spain the parliament is open once a year to the public and people stand in line for hours to get in.

  9. “On top of the city, of course. What else were you thinking, seriously? I know I’m French, but still!” – LOL LOL LOL J’avais rien pensais, je te le jure lol :)!

    Hello Zhu,

    Wonderful pictures! It is indeed very nice. I am also glad that Ottawa decided to cool down on the Universal Paranoia. It was confirmed that Portugal was about to suffer an attack, but we are cool :).

    I think that we are allowed to visit the Parliament to some extent; but I am not sure – I will have to check! I know I went there in a school trip, but I don’t know if regular people can just go there…but as I said: I’ll check :)!


  10. i’m not sure whether it’s open to public or not… maybe on certain days? not sure….

    those pix are stunning! i love heritage buildings… the european architecture! (that’s why i’m here now)… so french! so english! so canadian!

  11. Those are great photo’s! O and so much snow! this winter is ridicilously (?) mild here. We’ve had about one afternoon of snow and that was it.
    About parliament; yes you can visit it, but come to think of it, i have never done that.
    Tip for the weekend!

  12. Can you see the Spider thing from up there? I’ve never been to the US Capitol, but I did go up in the dome at St. Peter’s at the Vatican. The view of Rome from up there was amazing!

  13. If you could blow up the photo of the National Art Galleries more, you’d see the spider. It’s also within view of a large church across the street from it.

  14. Sir Jorge: and you clicked on the post despite being married! Bad bad… 😆

    Lori: thanks! I’m sure there’s plenty to see in your area, you just don’t notice it cause you’re so used to it.

    Silverneurotic: winter is nice too, as long as you don’t mind a bit of snow 😉

    Aiglee: thanks 😉

    Linguist-in-waiting: I let you know for the keywords 😉 I’d love to visit the Capitol, it’s a strong symbol as well.

    Spyder: I wasn’t in Canada at the time, but it must have been pretty moving.

    Saskboy: there are Rideau Hall tours, I went long time ago. And don’t forget the Governor’s Garden as well! I’d love to visit the White House, that policy sucks.

    Keshi: thanks! You’re welcome anytime!

    Art: I know you weren’t thinking that… 😉

    Reward Rebel: I went to Westminster long long time ago, it was really nice too.

    Theresa: yeah, same in France with the Presidential Palace. It’s too bad, really.

    Beaverboosh: can’t you dress as a typical Norwegian?

    Max: I guess I’m sure only one obsess with Parliaments! 😆 It’s just that I think in a democracy we should all have a look where is our power. That said, I also went for pictures!

    Kyh: yes, it does look good. I must say I’m spoiled because I grew up around such buildings!

    Dutchie: thanks! Oh we had more than one afternoon of snow here! You should go visit and then post the pictures 😉

  15. I think the greek parliament is open to excursions for educational purposes that have to be scheduled a bit ahead of the time of visit. I don’t really know what is the status for individuals that want to visit the place. I would guess that sections of the building would be open to public but I am not entirely sure maybe it is all out prohibited who knows.

    Beautiful pictures as always your Zhuness! The Canadian parliament seems quite a unique place design wise and I can only imagine the feeling of enjoying that view firsthand!

    Take care your awesomeness!

  16. does the White House count as a parliament?
    i don’t think we are allowed to go inside… except for tours

    i live canada. there are a lot of cool places there

  17. I like those pictures taken from the high tower. I took many in San Francisco’s Coit Tower and the Stanford University’s bell tower.

    I also noticed the snow! 😛

  18. 😀 Hey ZHU,
    Thanks for visiting me and you were also in Ottawa walking near the parliamental building , very intersting…. You knwo that a cousion of me is living also in Ottawa, but YOU are telling me more about the surrounding there and life etc…so I like always visiting your blog for that… How ‘s life? did you meet any intersting people who can become your friends? I am just wondering….

    See on my blog, what I made (the first time) for ABC wednesday,I made music combined with photography, I made this walk….

    Greetings from JoAnn Holland

  19. Johnada: if you go on my Flickr album, you’ll see a bigger picture and you can spot the spider. It’s big enough 😉

    Deadpoolite: hey soldier, shot anyone yet? You probably don’t need to visit your Parliament, so many others nice building is Greece… I mean, I think the Parliament is one the oldest stuff we have around, unlike you and your Parthenon!

    Jay Cam: it does, by Parliament I meant any place of power… Apparently, it’s US visits only though.

    Rudy: yeah, snow is pretty much a part of the lanscape for 6 months a year!

    JoAnn: thank you! I know quite a lot of people here now, I have been there for a few years. People are really friendly too, it helps! Have you ever been to visit your cousin?

    Alexander: thank you!

    RennyBA: oh oh, I think I know what you’re talking about… I’ll be over in a sec! :mrgreen:

  20. Your photographs are beautiful. You always manage to capture the perfect pictures.

    In England, you can visit Parliament at Westminster. I have been several times and leant over the balcony to listen to the debates. However, it takes soooooo long to geth through the security checks before you can get in…lol!

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful building with us 🙂

    Graham’s last blog post..An Introduction to One Man’s Travel Blog

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