Montreal, the second largest city in Canada was founded in 1642. However, several Native American tribes had been settled at the place already for 8000 years. After Paris, the metropolitan area of Montreal also known as “Greater Montreal”, is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. Today, Montreal is worldwide famous for being one of the most important cultural centers in Northern America. In addition, the city hosted the Olympic Summer Games in 1976. Since 1967 (with the exception of 2009), the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix is held in Montreal.
Montreal has the largest underground city, La Ville Souterraine, in the world. It covers more than 12 km², while the underground shopping malls exceed 32 km. It connects the major cultural centers and tourist attractions in Downtown Montreal. You can enter the underground city by several public access points, six metro stations, two train stations or via the bus terminal.
The city is known for its huge variety of theaters, orchestra, ballets and operas. The major center for performing arts is the Place de Artes. Not less than five different theaters are located here and the new concert hall for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra is planned to be opened next year. The majority of the theatres show their performances in French, while English theaters usually face more difficulties. The different orchestras in the city belong to the most important symphonic orchestras in the world.
The most important ballet of Canada, the Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal was found in 1957. It show the classics of the 19th century and the modern works of the 20th century. Every season four new performances are shown. Some of the world most famous dancers started their career in this company. In addition, many international ballet companies perform their shows in Montreal.
Although the Montreal Opera is a relative young ensemble, it was founded in 1980 and belongs already to the 15 most important operas of Northern America. It shows a mixture of modern and classical opera masterpieces.
But Montreal is not only a center of classical music, it is also known for its famous International Jazz and Pop festivals. On the occasion of its 30th birthday, the Jazz festival featured in 2009 more than 500 concerts by more than 2000 musicians. More than two million visitors came to city to enjoy the outstanding music performances during the first twelve days in July. Some of the concerts were held in small pubs and in theatre halls all over the city, but almost every second concert was an open-air concert. Some of the concerts were seen by more than 200,000 music enthusiasts as visitors. It is certainly the most important Jazz festival in the world.
During the summer, another spectacle takes place in the city, the Montreal Fireworks Festival. It is a major international fireworks competition. During the competition, several pyrotechnical companies present their shows of 30 minutes length. During each show, approximately 6000 fireworks are set off. In total, more than 3 million visitors enjoyed the fascination of these shows. Maybe next year, you will be one of them.