Dominating the southern section of Vieux-Québec, the massive star-shaped Citadelle can only be visited on one of the worthwhile guided tours. The tour de force of Québec City’s fortifications, the Citadelle occupies the highest point of Cap Diamant, 100m above the St Lawrence. This strategic site was first built on by the French, but the British constructed most of the buildings under orders from the Duke of Wellington, who was anxious about American attack after the War of 1812.
The complex of 25 buildings is the largest North American fort still occupied by troops – being home to the Royal 22nd Regiment, Canada’s only French-speaking regiment. Ranged around the parade ground are various monuments to the campaigns of the celebrated “Van-Doos” (vingt-deux), as well as the summer residence of Canada’s governor general and two buildings dating back to the French period: the Cap Diamant Redoubt, built in 1693 and thus one of the oldest parts of the Citadelle, and the 1750 powder magazine, now a mundane museum of weaponry and military artefacts.
In addition to the guided tours, the admission price includes the colourful Changing of the Guard (late June to early Sept daily 10am), which you can catch at the end of a 9am tour (otherwise arrive by 9.45am), and the Beating of the Retreat tattoo (early July to early Sept Fri–Sun 7pm, at the end of the 6pm tour).