Old Quebec (French: Vieux-Québec) is a neighbourhood of Quebec City, the capital of the province of Quebec in Canada. Generally speaking 'Old Quebec' refers to the part of the city within the walls. Other parts of the city have structures as old but the term generally refers to "within the walls".
By 1750, Quebec had grown to be the largest town in New France, with a population of about 8,000. It was the center of French power in North America. In a way, Quebec was two towns. The upper town was a walled fortress located high above the river, atop an imposing cliff. It included the Governor's mansion and the homes of the wealthy. The lower town was the port, huddled between the river and the cliff.
Driving motorcycles is prohibited everywhere in Old Quebec, except for residents and workers with access permits, but this motorcycle ban does not apply to boulevard Champlain, rue Dalhousie, quai Saint-André, or rue Saint-Paul.
The Old City dates from the early 17th century, when in 1620 Samuel de Champlain chose the strategic location of Cap Diamant as the site for the Chateau St. Louis. As a result, Old Quebec maintained a strong military and administrative presence from the very beginning. While the Lower City was populated with merchants and craftsmen, the Upper Town was inhabited by military officials and members of the clergy.
This military presence long limited the city's expansion. At the end of the 19th century, many wanted to demolish the fortifications, judging them to be unnecessary and a hindrance to urban development. However, Governor Dufferin successfully managed to preserve the character of the walled city, while adapting the further expansion of the modern city.
Despite having undergone some degradation in the 1950s, the Old City has been subject to somewhat of a renaissance period since the 1970s.
The rich historic nature of Old Quebec is marked by the city's ramparts, fortifications, and many houses and buildings from past centuries. The legacy of previous generations and the beauty of the district make it particularly unique.
The majority of buildings in the neighborhood date from 19th century, although the construction of some date back to 17th and 18th centuries. It also is home to several commercial streets, including Rue Saint-Jean, Rue Sainte-Anne and Rue De Buade. Many institutions are still housed in the heart of the city, such as the Quebec City Council, the Séminaire de Québec, the Ursulines Convent, and the Augustinian monastery. Since Old Quebec is a popular tourist destination, there are also several inns, including the famous Chateau Frontenac. Guided ghosts tours are also of interest to its residents and visitors.
In 1963 an area of in the historic area of the city was named a Arrondissement historique décrété ("Declared Historic District") by the Province of Quebec, and was expanded the following year to an area of 135 hectares (330 acres). It includes 1,400 buildings within the neighbourhood of La Cité, including the promonotary of Cap Diamant and a strip of band below the cliffs, between the Saint-Charles River and the Saint Lawrence River. In 1985, it was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.