Home to the vast majority of Victoria’s sights, hotels, and eateries, Downtown is Victoria for most visitors. At its heart is the Inner Harbour. Busy with yachts, passenger ferries, whale-watching boats, and floatplanes, and framed by such iconic buildings as the Fairmont Empress hotel, this pedestrian-friendly area is busy with horse-and-carriage rides, street entertainers, tour buses, and, yes, tourists—all summer
long. The south shore of the harbor, extending to the Dallas Road waterfront and Beacon Hill Park, is known as James Bay. Two key sites, the Parliament Buildings and the Robert Bateman Centre, are here, but if you stroll just a block south, you’ll find a peaceful residential district of modest historic homes, and such interesting historic sites as Emily Carr House. North of the Inner Harbour, a straight shot up Government Street leads to some great shopping and to more historic areas: Bastion Square, Market Square, and Chinatown. Founded in 1858, Victoria's Chinatown, along Fisgard Street between Government and Store streets, is the oldest such district in Canada. At just two square blocks, it’s much smaller than Vancouver's but still pleasant to stroll through, particularly as hip boutiques and eateries have moved into the district. If you enter from Government Street, you'll pass under the elaborate Gate of Harmonious Interest, made of Taiwanese ceramic tiles and decorative panels.