Feb. 02, 2018
Haiti kicked the French out in 1804. In 1805, King of the North Henri Christophe, a leader of the Haitian Revolution, began building The Citadelle to keep the newly independent nation safe from an attack by France, if their army dared to show back up. They did not.
FUN FACT: The Citadelle is built atop a 3000 foot mountain, which resulted in breathtaking views and you know, an effective way to see your enemies coming. It is the largest castle in the Americas, about 110k square feet, and held rations for 5000 people for one year. If ever there was a French invasion, the plan was to get as many people as possible inside the fortress, scorch the earth leading to it and defend the country from inside the wall. There are 365 cannons (never fired), a bunch of cannon balls —yep, still there. Oh, and a huge tomb with only a left leg in it. There was a gun powder explosion, around 100 people died. All that remained of them was a left leg, so that got buried in remembrance.
I felt like I was on the set of #GOT, except it’s not a set. It’s a whole real-life extraordinary show of might and force by former slaves who weren’t not never going back in chains.
One tricky thing about that former slave thing-- the folks who worked on The Citadelle were forced to work on it and NOT paid, which you can imagine didn't sit well with the populace. Facing a coup and assassination in 1820, Christophe choose death by suicide and allegedly with a silver bullet. ( I read the gun he used is in Haiti's national museum. I don't recall seeing it, but I may have missed it on the tour. There was so much to see.) Also, alleged is that his loyal supporters buried Christophe's body inside The Citadelle so that it wouldn't be mutilated by his foes. (I don't remember the tour guid, a Haitian history professor, saying this, but again, there was a lot to take in.)
Images provided by Demetria L. Lucas. All rights reserved.