Toronto Landmarks: Nathan Phillips Square

Nathan Phillips Square sits on top of one of the world’s largest underground parking garages. It’s named for the former Toronto mayor, and opened in 1965. The square sits just in front of Toronto’s new City Hall building.

One of Toronto’s famous landmarks, the square is home to a number of events and attractions, including the festival of lights and skating rink (the large reflecting pool is frozen for visitors to skate on) in the winter, and concerts, art displays and farmer’s markets in the summer.

Nathan Phillips Square is also home to the Peace Garden, which is a memorial and monument to both the bombing of Hiroshima and the principle of world peace and what it means to the City of Toronto. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau broke the ground for the Peace Garden when it was first built, and the fountain in the peace garden also contains water from Nagasaki that was poured into it by Pope John Paul II. The Peace Garden is located in the centre of the square.

The most notable feature of Nathan Phillips Square is probably the three giant arches that stretch across the reflecting pool. These arches, as of 1989, are called the Freedom Arches. The central arch also holds a chunk of the Berlin Wall, and the entire structure is dedicated to those who have fought for and defended freedom across the world. The plaque above the piece of Berlin Wall reads,

“The Citizens of Toronto dedicate these arches to the millions who struggled, including Canadians, to gain and defend freedom and to the tens of millions who suffered and died for the lack of it. May all that we do be worthy of them. Only in freedom can the Human Spirit soar. Against the Human drive for freedom nothing can long succeed. This plaque is mounted on a slab of the Berlin Wall.”

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