The Citadelle – Eighth Wonder of the World
From the best I can determine from foggy memory and sketchy data available on the Interent, this is where the Citadelle is located in Haiti.
UPDATE: Google Earth now has new, very clear satellite imagery as well as great pictures attached via Panaramio.com and linked information from Wikipedia.
UPDATE: Don’t have Google Earth? Here’s a link to the view in Google Maps – but you miss the 3D and links to addtional pictures and information.
An imposing fortress, the Citadelle in Haiti’s Parc National Historique La Citadelle sits 3500 ft on top of a mountain, overlooking the city of Cap-Haitien. Seeped in scandal and superstition, a quick look at the Citadelle’s stats highlight just some of the unusual facts of this ‘eighth wonder of the world’.
History of the Mad King
Built in the early 1800’s it took fifteen years to finish construction of this fortress of thirteen feet (four metres) thick walls, some reaching 130 ft (40 metres) in height! Construction was no mean feat either, up to 20 000 slaves worked on the Citadelle with a reported 10,000 dying from exhaustion during the task.Even once complete, the Citadelle remained shrouded in mystery and scandal. When important dignitaries came to visit the King Henri Cristof, he used to line up a few of his soldiers and make them march over the edge of the Citadelle, plunging to their death just to show how brave they were. The Haiti people hold a widespread belief in the supernatural and numerous stories tell of the ‘mad king’ Henri’s ghost walking the Citadelle.
Visiting the Citadelle Today
To visit the Citadelle, you can leave from the town of Sans Souci, walking up the two miles (3.5 km) path, which leads you to the Citadelle parking lot. The fort is a mile further up steep terrain. For these reasons, and to escape the heat and haze of the afternoon it can be best to visit the Citadelle in the morning.Don’t forget to bring some bottled water, or be prepared to pay inflated prices to buy water at the parking lot. The Parc National Historique La Citadelle is filled with many vendors and unofficial guides who are quite persistent with their offers. It may be worth hiring a guide, simply to avoid the touts and enjoy the history of this spectacular monument in peace.
Some debate the use of the word “slaves” in reports like these since Haiti had revolted against France a few years earlier and had freed all their slaves. Unfortunately their new rulers weren’t much better than the slave masters they overthrew and, at the best, the building of the Citadelle was done with forced labor.
They don’t mention the fact that, although some organizations provide tourist services there, the US State Department has a current tavel warning regarding travel in Haiti.
Other links about the Citadelle
Photo used by permission from Luxner News.