This mountaintop fortress was built from 1805 to 1820 in the aftermath of the slave revolution of Haiti (Bt 1791–1804) by African descendants and declaration of its independence from France.
It was designed as a part of fortification system, which was supposed to defend newly independent Haiti from the attacks of the French Army.
This massive stone construction is the largest fortress in the Americas.
Henri Christophe, (1767-1820), Haitian president (1807-1811) and king (1811-1820), born on the island of Grenada.
After fighting at Savannah, Georgia, during the American Revolution, Christophe went to the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), where he joined with black insurgents fighting against the French in 1790 and became one of their leaders.
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Built to demonstrate the power of the newly independent Haiti, the Citadelle Laferrière was essential for the security of Haiti’s newly formed state.
This astonishingly huge structure was created by war and for war, but fortunately the attack of French army never came and this amazing fortress survived up to today almost unchanged.
The fortress has numerous storehouses and water cisterns, designed for storing enough food and water to supply 5000 people during a whole year.
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No wonder that the construction of the fortress lasted 15 years from 1805 to 1820 and required 20,000 workers.
This massive stone construction was outfitted with 365 cannons of varying size and an enormous stockpile of cannon balls that still can be found in different corners of the Citadelle even today.
This mountaintop fortress includes fortification walls, large storages of food and water, royal mansions, dungeons, bathing quarters, etc.
The fortress was damaged by numerous earthquakes and renovated several times.
The Citadel La Ferriere was built by King Henri Christophe between the years 1805 and 1820, for the purpose of being able to resist an attack by the French. It is thought that the Citadel la Ferriere was designed by Etienne Henry Barré with the literal meaning of la Ferriere being the blacksmith’s pouch. Built with the forced labor of 20,000 newly “freed” African descendants of Haiti, this monumental fortress sits on almost 20 acres of land, 17 miles south of Cap-Haitien.
The Citadel is located at an altitude of 900 meters and is on top of the mountain called Bonnet a L’Eveque. The military compound is 10,000 square meters in size and, in some places, has walls that are up to 40 meters in height, and up to 4 meters thick. Armed with 365 cannon, the enormous size can be explained by the fact that it was considered to be the administrative capital of Haiti and included a printing shop, garment factories, a hospital, schools, a distillery, a chapel, and military barracks. It was also built to hold King Henri’s royal family and up to 5,000 soldiers for a year if the French had ever attacked.
Being a dictatorial monarch took its toll on Henri Christophe. On August 15, 1820 during the mid-day break he went to mass, which was not a part of his normal routine. Just before he was given communion, Christophe suffered a stroke which left him permanently paralyzed. His mind was still clear and he tried to carry on business as usual, but his government was threatened by factions who hated his tyrannical ways. In October the king tried to stand up to the rebels, but he realized he did not have the support he needed. ▨ ▨ One Sunday evening, Christophe called his wife and children into his room to discuss the state of Haiti and then sent them off to bed. After they left he raised a pistol to his chest and shot himself, on October 8,1820. As word of the king’s death got out, looters started ransacking the palace. Two men were able to get the body out of the residence, but they couldn’t find tools to dig a grave, so they buried Christophe in a pile of lime. In 1847, 27 years after his death, the monarch who did great things for his country, if perhaps not in great ways, was given a proper burial in a concrete tomb at the place d’Armes at the Citadel on the peak of La Ferrière.