Also known as the Parliament Buildings, the BC Legislative Building is the beautiful palace-like structure with the green dome in Victoria’s Inner Harbour that’s home to British Columbia’s government and Legislative Assembly.
This article contains information about the following topics:
Parliament Tours and Hours | About the Parliament Buildings | Inside the Parliament Buildings | Tips & Advice | Other Information
BC Legislative Buildings
Completed in 1897, the BC Parliament Buildings are located at 501 Belleville Street in the heart of Victoria. Part of the well-known Inner Harbour, they are just a block southwest of the Empress Hotel.
Along with the Fairmont Empress, the Parliament Buildings are the most-recognizable landmark structures in Victoria. They house government offices and the Legislative Assembly where elected officials debate. They are also open to the public for free tours.
Parliament Tours and Opening Hours
Free daily guided and self-guided tours of the Parliament Buildings take place throughout the year.
The facility is open to the public on regular weekdays from 8:30 am until 5:00 pm for both guided and self-guided tours. Free public tours also take place on statutory holidays and weekends in the summer, but self-guided exploration is permitted only Mondays to Fridays.
Guided tours start outside the main entrance at the front of the building and last for between 30 and 45 minutes. They are quite interesting and since they are free it’s well worth your time to take one. After the tour visitors are welcome to stay inside and continue exploring on their own. For obvious reasons, only certain areas are open to the public.
For an online copy of the self-guided tour pamphlet, click BC Parliament English Guidebook. Copies are also available both online and at the Parliamentary Tour Desk in a variety of languages.
About the Parliament Buildings
Designed by the famous BC architect Francis Rattenbury, the Legislative Buildings were completed in 1897. Rattenbury was only in his mid-twenties when he won the contract. In later years he designed other BC landmarks including the nearby Empress Hotel, the Crystal Gardens (just behind the Empress) and the present day Vancouver Art Gallery.
The Parliament Buildings were built for an original cost of slightly over $900,000. Additions over the following 20 years brought the full cost up to around $2 million, which, for that time, was a lot of money. In the 1970s the facilities underwent another $80 million in major upgrades and restorative work.
The buildings were designed by Francis Rattenbury in a “free classical,” Romanesque and Renaissance style, which explains why it looks so palatial. At night the 500-foot-long building is illuminated with thousands of light bulbs.
Situated on 12.5 acres of land in the heart of Victoria, the BC Parliament Buildings are beautiful both inside and out.
Inside the Parliament Buildings
Some of what you’ll see on both guided and self-guided tours include the official British Columbia Coat of Arms, the Reception Hall, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, stained glass windows celebrating the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, and both the Lower and Memorial Rotundas with their domed ceilings.
When the Legislature isn’t in session, including during most of the summer, the Legislative Assembly is available for viewing. When the Legislature is in session this important room can also be seen, along with all the political action, from the Public Gallery.
Tips & Advice
Below is a list of suggestions and information to help you make the most out of your visit to the BC Parliament Buildings.
TIP #1: If you’ve never been inside the Legislative Buildings before, we highly recommend that you go! Admission is free!
TIP #2: Take a guided tour if you can. They are free, educational and very interesting. You’ll see pieces of art and learn about BC history and culture, just like in a museum! And, again, it’s free!
TIP #3: If you’re hungry, check out the Parliamentary Dining Room. You can’t bring outside food and drinks into the building, but you can enjoy a meal at the same place as all the elected officials do (just not at the same time as them) The food is generally good and reasonably priced. When the Legislature is not in session the dining room is open from 8 am until 3 pm. When the Legislature is in session, public access is limited between 11 am and 1 pm. Click Parliamentary Dining Room for more information.
For further details about the Legislature, including tour information, check out the BC Government website.
Other places of interest within walking distance of the Parliament Buildings include the Inner Harbour, IMAX Theatre, Empress Hotel, Government Street, Bay Centre, Miniature World and Royal BC Museum. Beacon Hill Park also isn’t too far away.
For a list of other things to do in Victoria, check out any of the following: