What is the Montreal's Underground City and where can I find it?

The Montreal Underground City, also known as the RESO, is one of the most extensive underground pedestrian networks in the world. It's a network of interconnected tunnels, passages, and shopping complexes beneath the streets of downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Here are some key aspects of the Montreal Underground City:

  1. Origin: The development of Montreal's underground city can be traced back to the mid-20th century when city planners sought innovative solutions to cope with the city's harsh winter climate. The first underground pedestrian tunnel, connecting Place Ville-Marie to the Central Station, was opened in 1962. The digging of the tunnels involved various engineering techniques and machinery typical for large-scale underground construction projects of that era. The tunnels were primarily excavated using tunnel boring machines (TBMs), which are large machines specifically designed for digging tunnels underground. These machines bore through the soil and rock, creating the tunnels as they advance. TBMs were especially useful in urban environments like Montreal, where space constraints and existing infrastructure made traditional open-cut methods less practical. Overall, the construction of the Montreal Metro tunnels in 1962 would have been a significant engineering undertaking, requiring careful planning, skilled labor, and the use of various advanced construction technologies of the time. Over the decades, the network expanded rapidly, spurred by the construction of office buildings, shopping centers, and transportation hubs.

  2. Expansion: Over the years, the network expanded significantly. It now spans approximately 33 kilometers (20 miles) of tunnels and covers an area of more than 12 square kilometers (4.6 square miles). It connects various office buildings, hotels, shopping centers, universities, metro stations, and more.

  3. Architecture and Design: The underground city is a labyrinthine maze of corridors, walkways, and interconnected spaces, linking together a vast array of buildings, including office towers, hotels, shopping malls, universities, museums, and metro stations. The architecture of the underground spaces varies from sleek modern designs to historic structures, reflecting the city's rich cultural heritage. While much of the architecture within the Underground City reflects the styles prevalent during its construction, referring to the 1960s. Many of the structures boast modernist or contemporary designs, featuring clean lines, geometric shapes, and large glass facades. Despite being underground, the design of the Montreal Underground City incorporates natural light wherever possible. A network of skylights, glass atriums, and open courtyards allows sunlight to filter into the underground spaces, creating a more inviting and pleasant environment for pedestrians.

  4. Functionality: The Underground City serves multiple purposes. Beyond providing shelter from the cold, it offers a convenient way for people to commute, especially during inclement weather. It also houses a wide range of amenities, including shops, restaurants, theaters, museums, and even residential areas.

  5. Integration with Public Transit: In addition to pedestrian access, Montreal's underground city provides convenient connections to the city's public transportation system. Several metro stations are integrated into the network, allowing commuters to travel seamlessly between different parts of the city. Also, Montreal's major train stations, such as Central Station (Gare Centrale) and Lucien-L'Allier Station, have direct connections to the Réso. These stations serve intercity and commuter trains, making it convenient for travelers arriving by train to access the underground network. The underground city is also accessible via the city's bus network. Several bus stops are located near entrances to the underground network, allowing passengers to access the Réso after disembarking from their bus. Underground parking facilities cater to those who prefer to drive, offering a convenient option for accessing the downtown core.

  6. Tourism and Attractions: The Montreal Underground City is a popular tourist attraction in its own right. Visitors can explore its vast network of tunnels, discover hidden gems, and enjoy shopping, dining, and entertainment options along the way. Visitors can explore an extensive selection of shops, boutiques, and department stores, offering everything from fashion and electronics to books and gifts. The network also boasts an impressive array of restaurants, cafes, and food courts, serving up cuisine from around the world. For entertainment, there are movie theaters, theaters, and concert halls hosting live performances and events. Art galleries and exhibition spaces showcase the work of local and international artists. Sports enthusiasts can find fitness centers and recreational facilities, while families can enjoy indoor playgrounds and game arcades.

  7. Cultural Significance: The Underground City has become an integral part of Montreal's identity. It reflects the city's resilience in adapting to its climate and demonstrates Montreal's innovative urban planning.

At what time opens Montreal's underground city? What are the business open hours?
The opening hours for the Montreal Underground City, can vary depending on the specific entrances and exits as well as the businesses located within. Generally, the underground city connects to various metro stations and commercial buildings, so it operates in conjunction with their respective opening hours. Most of the underground city is accessible during regular business hours, typically from around 7 or 8 AM until 21h PM on weekdays. However, some sections may have extended hours, particularly those connected to shopping centers or entertainment venues. It's recommended to check the specific hours of the places you intend to visit within the underground city for accurate information.

Overall, the Montreal Underground City is a fascinating and practical urban marvel, offering both locals and visitors a unique way to experience the city, especially during the challenging winter season. You can visit various parts of the Montreal Underground City throughout downtown Montreal. Some of the key areas and landmarks within the underground network include:

  1. Place Ville Marie: This iconic skyscraper complex in downtown Montreal has an underground shopping concourse connected to the Underground City. It's a hub for shopping, dining, and accessing other parts of the network. Place Ville Marie open hours are from 9h00 to 21h00.

  2. Complexe Desjardins: Another major shopping and office complex, Complexe Desjardins, is part of the Montreal Underground City. It features shops, restaurants, a hotel, and office space. Complexe Desjardins open hours are from 9h00 to 17h00.

  3. Eaton Centre: The Montreal Eaton Centre, a large shopping mall, is interconnected with the Underground City. It offers a wide range of retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment options. Montreal's underground Eaton Centre open hours are from 10h00 to 21h00.

  4. Underground City Art: Throughout the network, you'll find various public art installations and exhibits, adding to the cultural experience of exploring the Underground City.

  5. Metro Stations: Many metro stations in downtown Montreal have direct connections to the Underground City. Some notable stations include McGill, Bonaventure, Place-des-Arts, and Peel.

  6. Place Bonaventure: This multi-purpose building includes office space, a hotel, exhibition halls, and a shopping concourse that connects to the Underground City. The Place Bonaventure is always open to public, so the open hours are 24h/7.

  7. Hotel Complexes: Several hotels in downtown Montreal, such as the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth and the Marriott Château Champlain, are accessible from the Underground City.


The map of Montreal's underground city is a testament to its complexity and functionality. It's not just a simple grid; it's a carefully curated web of interconnected pathways, corridors, and tunnels that span over 32 kilometers (20 miles). Navigating this underground maze can be a daunting task for newcomers, but for Montrealers, it's second nature. At its core, the underground city map revolves around key landmarks and hubs. Places like Place Ville-Marie, Complexe Desjardins, and Place Bonaventure serve as anchors, around which clusters of shops, restaurants, offices, and entertainment venues are organized. These hubs are interconnected by a network of pedestrian walkways, escalators, and tunnels, allowing people to traverse the city without ever stepping foot above ground. The map is designed for efficiency, with color-coded pathways and clear signage guiding pedestrians to their desired destinations. Whether you're looking for a quick bite to eat, a place to shop, or a shortcut to your office, the underground city map has you covered. In essence, the map of Montreal's underground city is a testament to human ingenuity and adaptability. It's a testament to the city's ability to thrive in the face of adversity, transforming what could have been a mere shelter from the cold into a thriving subterranean metropolis. So whether you're a visitor exploring its depths for the first time or a seasoned Montrealer navigating its twists and turns, the underground city map is sure to captivate and inspire. Exploring the Montreal Underground City is an adventure in itself, and you can easily spend hours wandering through its tunnels, discovering new shops, restaurants, and attractions along the way. Keep in mind that while many parts of the Underground City are open to the public, access to certain areas may vary depending on opening hours and individual building policies.