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Montreal's underground city - Canada

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Montreal's underground city

Wander around downtown Montreal in Quebec, Canada and you will find very little, just the looming hulks of skyscrapers and the odd car. But most life scurries under the streets in an underground city connecting two metro stations. Shops, cafes, bars and everything you could hope for lives in this subterranean world.

Montreal's Underground City (officially RÉSO or La Ville Souterraine in French) is the set of interconnected complexes (both above and below ground) in and around Downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is also known as the indoor city (ville interieure), and is the largest underground complex in the world.

Not all portions of the indoor city (ville interieure) are underground. The connections are considered tunnels architecturally and technically, but are air conditioned and have lighting as good as any building's liveable space does. Many tunnels are large enough to have shops on both sides of the passage. With over 32 km (20 mi) of tunnels spread over more than 12 km2 (4.6 sq mi), connected areas include shopping malls, apartment buildings, hotels, condominiums, banks, offices, museums, universities, seven metro stations, two commuter train stations, a regional bus terminal and the Bell Centre amphitheatre and arena. There are more than 120 exterior access points to the underground city. Each access point is an entry point to one of 60 residential or commercial complexes comprising 3.6 km2 (1.4 sq mi) of floor space, including 80% of all office space and 35% of all commercial space in downtown Montreal. In winter, some 500,000 people use the underground city every day.

Beneath the city streets, Visitors to Montreal can explore the underground city; an enormous underground structure integrated into the city's major commercial districts. It is known for being the largest underground complex in the world, containing and linking to over 200+ restaurants, 1700 boutiques, 30 movie theatres, halls, museums, and hotels, all connected to 10 of the city's subway stations. This unique feature has made people often refer to Montreal as “two cities in one” and can allow visitors to explore the city without having to worry about bad weather or lengthy travel time between the city's shopping districts.


In 2004 the downtown segments of the underground city were rebranded and given the name RÉSO. The name RÉSO is a homophone of the French word reseau, or network (as in a network of tunnels). The circle and downward pointing arrow which make up the logo or symbol of the Montreal metro (and can be seen outside all metro stations) is integrated within the RÉSO logo, as the "O" at the end of the word. Schematic maps bearing the RÉSO logo are found throughout the network. The largest and best-known segment is located in the centre of downtown, delimited by the Peel and Place-des-Arts metro stations on the Green Line and the Lucien-L'Allier and Place-d'Armes stations on the Orange Line.

The underground city is promoted as an important tourist attraction by most Montreal travel guidebooks, and as an urban planning achievement it is impressive. For most Montrealers, however, it tends to be considered more as a large mall complex linking metro stations - they may not know they are in it. Many Canadian cities have some kind of tunnel or skywalk system downtown to help people avoid the weather. Most parts of the Montreal's Underground City are open during the entire hours of operation of the metro (5:30 AM to 1:00 AM); though many accesses are closed outside of business hours, others remain open. However, the tunnels between the Bell Centre arena and Bonaventure metro station cannot be used before and after events at the arena, owing to fire regulations (access is via Lucien-L'Allier station instead). Maps of the underground city and the metro can be obtained free of charge from all metro stations, and the network of buildings is indicated on most maps of the downtown core.