The great citadel of the Caribbean, Cap-Haïtien, Haiti

7-km up winding roads reveals La Citadelle la Ferrière, the mountain stronghold to rebuff Napoleon’s army.

The redoubt of slave rebellion leader Henri Christophe, the fortress was to be his last stand, yet the army retook Haiti and 50,000 cannonballs wait to see action.

Looming out of sight above Milot, a 30-60 minute drive south of Cap-Haïtien, the citadel is traditionally reached by horse along a 7-km road beginning from the ruined Palace of Sans Souci. Alternatively, a second parking lot is a 30 minute or short horse ride from the citadel.

I opted for the full horse experience. Prices were not posted, I was charged $40 for the entrance ticket, guide, horse, and horse handler. Both gentlemen were quite good and repeatedly emphasized the need to tip for their service. The ride up is 1.5-2 hours, down is faster and even less comfortable for those unaccustomed to horses. It takes 30-60 minutes for a good survey of the citadel and then 1-1.5 hours to come down. Morning is preferred as clouds increasingly shroud the citadel as the day passes.

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La Citadelle la Ferrière, Christophe's redoubt

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Built to withstand assault by Napoleon's army

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A 7 km horse ride up steep, cobbled roads (or cheat with a SUV)

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Sentry post

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Guard house above, prison below, tempting to tie the guard's shoelaces together

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Napoleon's forces never came and the 160 cannon never saw battle

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The chapel was ransacked by treasure-hunters

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Elaborate structure and luxurious living quarters

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Original toilet hole, guide Lulu said, "Shit long trip"

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Water collection structures on the roof

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50,000 cannonballs wait to fly

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The view

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Pingbacks

  • Thanks for sharing this. Another place I must visit!

  • guera

    I,too, am appreciating these posts on Haiti, a country that admittedly is pretty far down on my wish list. Please follow up with your general impressions on traveling there.

  • Shayna

    I would rather read this any day than yet another Park Hyatt Maldives report. Great shots too!

  • Visiting the citadel on horseback sounds like a traditional experience.

    I am glad I had a 4-wheel drive ride up to Castell de Montsoriu in Arbucies, Spain last month. Being unfamiliar with horses I think I might have fallen off the cliff.

    Put me down as another person interested in your impressions of being in Haiti.

    PassportswithPurpose.org is a travel blogger fundraiser beginning in November to raise $100,000 for water.org to build wells in Haiti.

    Check it out: http://www.passportswithpurpose.org

  • @Shayna – thank you! No international chain hotels in Haiti so I think this will be an exclusive for a while. 🙂

    @Ric Garrido – I had a run-in with my horse, that will be a future post, but much more importantly I thank you for the charity recommendation and will include that in a post on impressions of Haiti. I saw and met many missionaries doing great work in Haiti.

  • Beautiful pictures!

  • Pingback: Doce Libros » La Citadelle Laferrière, el castillo delirante de Haití()

  • Lisa

    how did you get to the citadel? did you go with a group, an organization?

  • Lisa

    how did you get to the citadel? did you go with a group, an organization? i wish to go but of course can’t go by myself so i am just wondering

  • @Lisa – I flew to Cap-Haitien and from there you can take slow public transport, or as in my case, I charted a taxi for the roundtrip to the Citadel. Once there you can hike up or take a horse. I went with the horse and as I am not used to riding horses, I think it would have been easier to hike!