The Montreal Tower and Olympic Park – Montreal, Quebec

Constructed for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, the Olympic Stadium and Montreal Tower are two of the city’s most pride-worthy accomplishments –despite the various setbacks experienced during the construction of both the stadium and the tower.  Standing at an impressive 165 meters high, the Montreal Tower is the tallest inclined tower in the world with an impressive 45-degree angled slant. Numerous cables held taut against the tower’s incline are what keep the roof of the Olympic Stadium in place and through harsh weather conditions. And, with the Olympic Stadium still in use by both public and Olympic athletes alike, a visit to this monumental locale is a visit through living and breathing history.

A tour through the Olympic Stadium begins with a history lesson of how Montreal approached hosting the ’76 Olympics. A new stylized version of the classic Olympic rings logo was used that included the rings, a twist on the letter M for Montreal, and a distinctive oval loop indicating the running track built for the games.

During this history lesson, the struggles to build the stadium in time for the games become clear. Significantly, at the time of the games, the stadium did not have a roof as the Montreal Tower that would be needed to hold the structure was not built in time. A few years after the game, the tower was built and the roof, which was supposed to be retractable, above the stadium was set in place. Unfortunately, parts of the retractable roof could not sustain Montreal’s harshest weather conditions and broke off. The roof was replaced and no longer retracts.

While touring the Olympic Stadium, visitors get an impressive look at the facility’s main attraction, the pools. The stadium has seven active pools including a training pool for athletes, a deep pool for scuba training, and the main pool where athletes and the public alike can use to practice their technique. There’s a diving pool with multiple dive boards at 2 meters, 5 meters, 7.5 meters, and a staggering vertigo-inducing dive board at the height of the ceiling – 17 meters and open only to professional diving athletes.

For athletes who focus on non-aquatic training, the stadium features a special training facility open only to Olympic trained athletes and potentials. This area requires facial recognition security clearance to access. During our tour, this area was bustling with activity.

The main area of the stadium where the opening ceremonies were held and where the running track once was is now paved over to serve as a multi-use venue. Concerts, such as the likes of AC/DC, are now held here along with large-scale conventions, like when Pope John Paul II visited the city in 1984. The seating has been expanded and now the stadium can seat approximately 60 000 patrons.

After the tour, we took the highly anticipated funicular ride to the top of the Montreal Tower designed by architect Roger Taillibert. Watching the ground fall away as the funicular ascends is a lot of fun and a great opportunity for photos and video. The two-minute ride to the top goes by quickly and the unique hydraulic system employed here ensures that the funicular remains horizontal even while climbing the tower on an incline. At the top, be prepared for the most breathtaking views of the Olympic training grounds, the St-Laurent River, and the rest of the city you’ll ever see. Even with our day being gray and overcast, the views are stunning and with an unobstructed 360-degree observatory, your photos will be as well.

Tickets for the combination of the guided tour of the Olympic Stadium and access to the Observatory at top of the Montreal Tower are $32 for adults, $29 for seniors 65+, $25.50 for students, $16 for children ages 5-17, and $80 for a family including two adults and a maximum of three children. See the website for further details and other ticket packages available.

 

Review by Samantha Wu
Photos by Yehuda Fisher
Lead Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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