Calgary is situated on the banks of the beautiful Bow River at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, 200 miles (322km) north of the US border. Although Alberta's second city, Edmonton, is the state capital, Calgary is its largest, offering all the trappings of urban life as the territory's commercial and cultural centre, along with the pleasure of enjoying the dramatic countryside that surrounds the city.
Splendid national parks flourishing on Calgary's doorstep act as a magnet for hikers, fishermen and lovers of the great outdoors. Set on the Trans-Canada highway, the city is also the gateway to the Rocky Mountains resorts which attract skiers from all over the continent during winter.
The downtown area of Calgary not only serves as a shopping, entertainment and cultural hub for locals, but it also welcomes four million visitors a year who come for the annual attractions and festivals, wonderful parks and open spaces, and a selection of excellent shops, restaurants and bistros.
The city is perhaps best known for the Calgary Stampede, a world-class cowboy carnival and rodeo that draws more than a million people every year to watch the action and enjoy the accompanying festivities.
The site on which Calgary sits today is historically home to the native Blackfoot people, with the first European settlers not arriving until 1860. Colonel James Macleod established the small trading post, naming it Fort Calgary after Calgary Bay on his native Isle of Mull in Scotland. The Pacific Railway reached the town in 1883, but it was not until the discovery of oil in Turner Valley, 22 miles (35km) southwest of the city, that the population started to explode.
There's also a certain cowboy feel to the city. Wander the streets in your Stetson beneath the sparkling skyscrapers built on the back of the oil boom or dine on juicy steaks in a saloon with country music playing in the background. It will be hard to discern whether you're in Calgary or Texas...
There's a lot to see and do in Calgary, which means it attracts all types of travellers. It's both a great stop for those wanting to explore the surrounding wilderness while also an attractive option for a holiday of gastronomic indulgence and cultural education.