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The British Columbia Parliament Buildings in Victoria are captured on a clear day, with the Canadian flag fluttering atop a tall flagpole. The grand stone facade and green copper-domed roofs stand out against the blue sky, while visitors enjoy the well-manicured gardens and the promenade along the harbour front.

BC Parliament Building

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Activity:
Sightseeing
Difficulty:
Easy
Location:
Victoria
Time:
30min+
Distance:
1km

Activity:

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Accessibility:

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All ages elderly Icon
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Highlights Include:

Info Map

BC Parliament Building: A Historic Landmark in Victoria

Where to this weekend, Vancouver Island: BC Parliament Building

If you’re planning a visit to Victoria, it’s hard to miss the impressive British Columbia Parliament Buildings. These historic buildings, located along the inner harbour in the heart of the city, are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The buildings are open to the public, and visitors can take free guided interior tours on weekdays or stroll along the beautiful grounds.

A serene evening view of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings with illuminated exteriors and a clear dusk sky in the background

One of the most captured photos in Victoria includes the BC Parliament Buildings, which are located on a 12.5-acre site with beautiful fountains, gardens and architecture. Making the Parlement grounds an iconic part of Victoria’s inner harbour. 

The neoclassical buildings, constructed between 1893 and 1897, were designed to feature British Columbia granite and sandstone. 

Even if you aren’t interested in politics or history, walking the grounds at the BC Parliament Buildings is a must. And for those who want to dive deeper into the province’s history and politics, tours are available where you’ll learn about the province’s political system, the role of the Legislative Assembly, and the history of the buildings themselves. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to Victoria, exploring the BC Parliament Buildings is a fascinating experience.

Visiting BC Parliament Buildings

A detailed map of the Legislative Precinct in Victoria, BC, showing pathways, building outlines, and landscaping details.If you plan a walk around the Parliament Buildings and Legislative grounds, you’re in for a treat. Located in a great central location close to Victoria Hotels on the Inner Harbour, we have gathered some information and helpful tips to help you plan your experience.

Legislative Grounds

The Parliament Buildings are located on Belleville Street, overlooking Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The grounds are open to the public and are a great place to relax and take in the views. 

Starting from Belleville Street, this walking tour will guide you through the scenic grounds, showcasing remarkable landmarks and serene nature spots. Perfect for history buffs, garden enthusiasts, or anyone seeking a tranquil escape in the heart of Victoria, this walk promises a delightful experience for all.

A horse-drawn carriage carrying passengers travels along a road beside the lush grounds of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, with the building's distinctive architecture and green-domed roof visible in the background.

Approaching from Belleville Street: A Grand Entrance

As you approach from Belleville Street, the majesty of the Parliament Buildings immediately captivates you. Here, the blend of free classical, renaissance and Romanesque architecture sets a regal backdrop. Your first encounter is the expansive green lawns. This area, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing picnic, offers a panoramic view of the building’s impressive facade.

Queen Victoria Statue and the Knowledge Totem Pole: Symbols of History and Culture

Near the entrance, you’ll find the imposing statue of Queen Victoria, a nod to British Columbia’s colonial heritage. This statue, standing as a symbol of Victoria’s past, invites you to reflect on the region’s rich history. 

A short distance away, the Knowledge Totem Pole captures your attention. Crafted by Indigenous artists, this totem pole is a profound representation of the area’s indigenous roots and a reminder of the cultural tapestry that shapes British Columbia.

Tips and Suggestions

A Lit-up Parliament Building: Over 3,600 light bulbs illuminate the buildings at night. This tradition, dating back to 1897, offers a dramatic view of the structure after dark.

Explore the Back of the Property: Don’t miss the less-known areas at the back of the property, like the Centennial Fountain with symbolic creatures, the Garden of Honour and the Armouries Drill Hall.

Take a Guided or Self-Guided Tour: Visitors can choose between the free guided and self-guided tours of the Parliamentary Buildings. Self-guided tour booklets are available in several languages for free.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the hours of operation?
Fall/Winter: Open weekdays 8:30 am – 4:30 pm for free guided and self-guided tours. Closed on weekends and statutory holidays.

Is there food at the BC Parliament Buildings?
The Parliamentary Dining Room is open Monday to Friday for breakfast and lunch. Reservations are recommended.

Can visitors observe proceedings at the Parliament Buildings?
Yes, visitors can observe proceedings from the Public Galleries. Check the Parliamentary Calendar for the Legislative Assembly’s schedule.

Is there a gift shop at the Parliament Buildings?
Yes, the Parliamentary Gift Shop offers custom-made gifts for the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

Are the BC Parliament Buildings accessible?
Yes, the buildings are accessible for visitors in wheelchairs scooters, those with limited mobility, and children in strollers. An accessible washroom is available, and elevators can be used to travel between floors​​

What is the security screening process?
All visitors must pass through security screening prior to entry. Pets are not allowed inside, but service animals are welcome.

How long does it take to get from the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay to the BC Parliament Buildings?
The drive to downtown Victoria can take up to 1 hour from Swartz Bay.

Is there public parking at the Parliament Buildings?
No, but street parking and pay-parking lots are located nearby.

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The façade of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings is captured in detail, showcasing its stone construction, grand windows, and ornate statuary. A Canadian flag and the flag of British Columbia fly proudly beside the monumental structure under a clear blue sky.

Statues and Carvings 

When you visit the BC Legislative Library, prepare to be captivated by the stunning array of statues and carvings that adorn its exterior. 

Designed by Francis Rattenbury, these artistic treasures were carved by the talented Charles Marega and Bernard Carrier. Among them are 14 statues of influential figures in British Columbia’s history, including explorers, judges, and an indigenous chief, thoughtfully selected by the provincial librarian E.O.S. Scholefield. 

The library’s façade also features six medallions with the faces of legendary literary figures like Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare, celebrating their impact on European literature and philosophy. 

What’s more, the library’s domes are graced with twelve ‘Allegorical Women’ or ‘Muses,’ each representing a different artistic discipline such as Music, Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture. 

It’s always a good idea to look up and keep your eyes open for any exquisite statues on display. These artistic creations can often be hidden in plain sight and add beauty and elegance to any environment. So, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate them and even snap a picture or two to remember them.

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings stand majestic in the background, framed by clear blue skies and vibrant greenery. In the foreground, a fountain with a dynamic sculpture sends water cascading down on the legislative grounds.

The Centennial Fountain

Moving towards the back of the Parliament Buildings, the Centennial Fountain emerges as a symbol of British Columbia’s centennial celebrations. This fountain, with its intricate design and playful water displays, offers a refreshing stop. Here, take a moment to admire the detailed stonework and artistry of the Parliament Buildings. The architectural nuances, from stained glass windows to ornate carvings, tell a story of craftsmanship and pride.

Armouries Drill Hall

The large red brick building was the Armouries Drill Hall, completed in 1894; initially built for the 5th British Columbia Regiment of the Garrison Artillery, it served as a drill hall and a social venue. 

In 1921, the building was handed over to the provincial government and has since been repurposed, first as the home of the provincial police department and the motor vehicle branch, and now housing offices for the Legislative Assembly staff and various media outlets.

Replica Speaker’s Chair

Tucked away in a quaint green space, you’ll find the Replica Speaker’s Chair, a tribute unveiled on July 17th, 2013, to honour the pivotal role of the Speaker in parliamentary democracy and the individuals who have served as Speakers, Deputy Speakers, and Assistant Deputy Speakers in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. 

Crafted from painted cast aluminum with a Douglas Fir seat, this symbolic chair is encircled by over 80 bricks, each engraved with the names, positions, and tenures of past office holders. Positioned in the Speaker’s courtyard and facing north, mirroring the orientation of the Speaker’s Chair in the Legislative Chamber.

Premier’s Rose Garden and Sundial: A Floral Delight

The side view of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, featuring a well-maintained rose garden and trimmed hedges leading up to the stone facade.Continuing your journey, the Premier’s Rose Garden awaits with its vibrant array of roses. This small, meticulously maintained garden, with its sweet fragrances and kaleidoscope of colours, is a testament to Victoria’s nickname, “The City of Gardens.” In the centre, the sundial is an intriguing historical piece.

A wide-angle shot of Confederation Garden Court showcasing a fountain with surrounding emblems of provinces and territories, with steps leading up to it.

Confederation Garden Court

Concluding your tour, cross Menzies Street to Confederation Garden Court. Home to the Spirt of the Republic Statue and the centerpiece of this serene garden is the Confederation Fountain. Created in 1967 to mark Canada’s centennial of Confederation, this tranquil oasis, just west of the Parliament Buildings, is a living tribute to the nation’s unity. The magnificent three-tiered Confederation Fountain symbolizes the collaborative spirit that binds Canada’s provinces and territories. 

Not just a visual delight, the park also houses a fascinating time capsule buried under a one-tonne lid containing artifacts from 1967, awaiting its unveiling in 2067. 

But it’s not all about the past; a recent addition of colour-changing LED lights has transformed the park, marrying its rich history with a touch of contemporary flair. These lights enhance the park’s beauty and underscore Victoria’s commitment to sustainability, casting a mesmerizing glow that brings the park to life in a spectrum of colours. 

"Beautiful buildings surrounded by beautiful buildings overlooking the most lively area of Victoria. Personally felt like a great place to spend a few hours during the weekdays. Can get a bit crowdy during weekends. Do pay a visit inside the buildings."

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The British Columbia Legislative Assembly chamber viewed from above, displaying rows of red and blue seats, a central golden speaker's chair, and marble columns with gilded accents.

Tour Information

The BC Parliament Buildings are open for free guided tours and self-guided tours on weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Free guided tours are offered regularly throughout the day. You can check the tour schedule on the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia’s website. Self-guided tour books are available at the front desk.

BC Parliament Building Virtual Tour

Contact the Parliamentary Tour Program at 250-387-3046 for more information.

Accessibility and Facilities

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia is committed to providing accessible services to all visitors. Service animals are welcome. Security screening is required for all visitors. The Legislative Library, Parliamentary Dining Room, and Parliamentary Gift Shop are located on the premises.

Transportation and Parking

There is no public parking on the property. Street parking and pay parking lots are located nearby. Underground paid parking is available behind Fairmont Empress at the Victoria Conference Centre.

For visitors with accessibility requirements, the best place to park, or be dropped off, is immediately beside the property on Menzies Street. Outdoor bike racks are located on either side of the buildings behind the East and West Annexes. 

A bus stop is located on the Government Street. For Bus current routes, visit BC Transit Next Ride.

Hours and Holidays

The BC Parliament Buildings are closed on weekends and statutory holidays. The hours of operation are from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on weekdays. Parking is available on Government Street. Reservations are not required.

 

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Other Things To See

Thunderbird Park is just a stone’s throw away, showcasing totem poles and cultural displays. Adjacent to it is the Royal BC Museum, offering a deep dive into the region’s natural and human history.

A leisurely walk will take you to the vibrant Fisherman’s Wharf, renowned for its colourful floating homes and fresh seafood.

These attractions form part of a scenic walking loop, an ideal way to experience Victoria a day.

This route not only connects key sights but also weaves through picturesque streets and waterfront paths, offering a comprehensive and enjoyable way to discover the city’s charm and heritage.

Historical Significance

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings, located in Victoria, hold great historical significance for the province of British Columbia and Canada. The buildings were designed by a 25 year old architect, Francis Rattenbury, who went on to design other notable buildings in Victoria, such as the Empress Hotel, the CPR Marine Terminal, and the Bank of Montreal building.

Construction on the Parliament Buildings began in 1893 and was completed in 1898. The buildings were designed in a neo-baroque style.

In the exterior of the Legislative Library, there are 14 statues depicting prominent individuals from the history of British Columbia. Among these statues are Chief Maquinna, Captain George Vancouver, Captain James Cook, and Sir Anthony Musgrave.

Photo Gallery:

FAQ:

What are the hours of operation?
Fall/Winter: Open weekdays 8:30 am – 4:30 pm for free guided and self-guided tours. Closed on weekends and statutory holidays.

Is there food at the BC Parliament Buildings?
The Parliamentary Dining Room is open Monday to Friday for breakfast and lunch. Reservations are recommended.

Can visitors observe proceedings at the Parliament Buildings?
Yes, visitors can observe proceedings from the Public Galleries. Check the Parliamentary Calendar for the Legislative Assembly’s schedule.

Is there a gift shop at the Parliament Buildings?
Yes, the Parliamentary Gift Shop offers custom-made gifts for the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

Are the BC Parliament Buildings accessible?
Yes, the buildings are accessible for visitors in wheelchairs scooters, those with limited mobility, and children in strollers. An accessible washroom is available, and elevators can be used to travel between floors​​

What is the security screening process?
All visitors must pass through security screening prior to entry. Pets are not allowed inside, but service animals are welcome.

How long does it take to get from the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay to the BC Parliament Buildings?
The drive to downtown Victoria can take up to 1 hour from Swartz Bay.

Is there public parking at the Parliament Buildings?
No, but street parking and pay-parking lots are located nearby.

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Modified: January 27, 2024
Last Visit: October 22, 2023

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