Samuel de Champlain first established his trading post on this site in 1608. (tinted stones mark the dimensions of the spot.) The site has been preserved just as it was during the 1700s, despite a ruinous fire in 1662 and attacks from the British, who captured the city in 1759.)
It is the site of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (or Our Lady of Victories) church. The original church (destroyed in a fire during the siege of Quebec) was built on the foundations of Samuel de Champlain's trading post. It was so named in 1690, following a French victory over the English. In 1711, when yet another attempt by the Brits to take Quebec failed, the original word "Victory" in the name was changed to the present "Victories."
It is a lovely building, not at all flashy and well restored. (More about this church in THIS POST.)
Keep walking and you'll come across a remarkable mural. In the past couple of decades, fresco paintings have been done in the city highlighting Quebec's urban heritage. The murals depict the city's history and are remarkable for their size and scale.
The first was finished in 1999 and is called La Fresque des Quebecois. Many of the city's historical figures are included such as Samuel de Champlain, Jacques Cartier, Lord Dufferin and more.
Done in the trompe l'oeil style, they feature architectural monuments and elements such as the city's coat of arms, cultural communities such as French and British settlers, the religious community, the people's love for hockey and the lovers who find Quebec City a romantic place.
Have you heard the expression "a stiff drink" before? We happened to be near a tour guide pointing out some of the things on this mural and he pointed out the gentlemen below, taking a cask down the steps. He explained that in the days before embalming, those dying far away might be transported home, preserved in a cask of alcohol. Lord Nelson was presumably in this situation, following his death in the Battle of Trafalgar. Hence, the expression. (Snopes does back this up, by the way, with some exclusions!)
Shortly beyond this you can see excavations -- always looking into the past.
This mural (and the square) can also be viewed from above as one climbs toward Haute Ville.
A view of the Square from above.
The second mural is called La Fresque du Petit Champlain and depicts key stages in the history of a working class Quebec neighborhood, displaying trade activities, fishing and historical events.