Monday, January 06, 2014

Historic Haiti: The Citadelle

We began our journey into Haitian history in the town of Milot, where we bought tickets to see the Citadelle and Sans Souci. The Citadelle is a huge fortress the Haitians built after they overthrew the French in 1804. Under the leadership of King Henri Christophe, the Citadelle or Citadel Henri as it's also called, was constructed from 1806 until 1820. The Haitians were afraid the French would try to retake Haiti and they built this mountaintop fortress for protection. Sans Souci, which means "No Worries," was a royal palace, also built by King Henri.

But first, the Citadelle. We drove part way up the mountain, Grand Boucan, located in the Bonnet-a-l'Eveque mountain chain with our guide and a three Haitian friends. Probably about a mile or two before the actual Citadelle, we parked and walked the rest of the way on foot (there is the opportunity to rent a horse). 

The road is paved with cobble stones and reminded me of the yellow brick road, as it neatly wound its way to the Citadelle. Only in Haiti would the Yellow Brick Road lead to a fortress resembling the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West and not Oz. 

The road was occasionally steep as it switchbacked up the top of the mountain. I felt guilty and sorry for one of our friends who was carrying a cooler on his head, filled with drinks for us. 

So many of the images I was seeing with my own eyes were familiar to me as I have searched the internet extensively for pictures of the Citadelle. The view of the prow as we headed up the mountain; 

the courtyard; 

some of the outside walls.

The place is about as confusing when you are at it as it is trying to figure it out from the internet. It twists around on itself with stairways, hallways, batiments, rooms, etc. A couple parts are closed off. But as you will see, our lenient guide didn't constrain us.

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