The Great Citadelle of the Caribbean - Haiti

The Great Citadelle Laferrière, Cap-Haïtien -  Haiti

How to get the Citadel from PAP

I visited the Citadelle in 2011 while on a business trip to Cap-Haïtien, Haiti. 

Formerly known as the "Paris of the Caribbean" - or Ocap, as the locals call it; even though the city no longer pays tribute its former splendor from which the name originated, it was worth the visit.

The Citadelle and  Palace Sans Souci were epic, to say the least. Both historical sites just out of Cap Haïtien were the masterpieces of King Henrie Christophe, a black slave rebellion leader who wanted to prove a point to Haiti's white masters - that blacks also had architectural prowess. 

The trip began from Port au Prince (PAP) where we boarded Tortug Air to Ocap. Its a super short ride - less than 30 minutes on a super small plane.

This is how close I was sitting to the cockpit. I could see through to all the controls

At the time in 2011, to board the plane, you MUST carry a printed copy of your ticket. My friend didn't have hers and she was not allowed on the plane until she bought a new ticket. Not sure if that is still the case.

After dropping our stuff at the Hotel Les Jardins de l'Ocean, we proceeded to Milot town via a tap tap (Haitian public taxis) ride from downtown Ocap. It cost about 20 goudes one way and took about an hour from Cap Haitien to Milot, the home town of the two sites. From where the tap tap drops you to San Souci is very near, about 10 minutes walk.

Upon arrival, our first stop was at this church aka palace aka ticket booth.

Peering right behind it is the Palace Sans Souci... I had to rush back for my meeting so skipped it and went straight for the Citadel. But its an amazing site. I can only imagine what it looked like before the 1840s earthquake hit it.

It is also here that we paid an entrance fee and also hired our rides and guides aka handlers for the day. These guys literally "handle" your bum throughout the uphill ride so you don't fall of the horse i.e. in case you're a coward like I am. The more frightened you are, the more handlers you hire. Cost us about US$30 each including tipping.

The other option is to drive up the road from the palace and when you reach a dead end, just park your car or motorcycle and walk the path up to the citadel.

As one approaches the fortress from the winding road, the Citadel stands in awe and splendor.

Splendid view of the Citadel from the road on a clear morning
Entrance to the Citadel

King Henri ordered the construction of the Citadel to repel against Napoleon's invasion. Today, about 50,000 of these cannon balls sit still never having been used.

View from the rooftop of the Citadel

Still waiting to be fired more than 200 years later

More pictures of the Citadel ...

Marie Louise was the Queen, King Henrie's wife.

Having suffered a stroke, King Henri Christophe shot himself with a silver bullet, taking away his own life on 8th of October, 1820. He was later buried on these very grounds of the Citadel.

Ten days later, his son and heir to the throne, Jacques - Victor Henry, was bayoneted to death by rebels at the palace.

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