Citadel, Sans Souci Palace and the ruins of Ramiers are located in the north-west of Haiti near Cap-Haïtien. The citadel was built under Jean Jacques Dessalines, who made himself emperor in 1804. The palace was designed by Henri (Christophe) I, who was King of Haiti from 1811. The buildings are symbolic of the liberation of slaves and the independence of Haiti.
Historic Buildings in Haiti: Facts
|Official title:||Historical national park with citadel, Sans Souci palace and ruins of Ramiers|
|Cultural monument||Historical national park, partly covered with tropical vegetation, among others. with real mahogany tree, avocado pear, breadfruit and coffee bush; The citadel and fortifications of Ramiers with around 50,000 cannon balls and cannons from foundries in Metz, Nantes and Rochefort and the Sans Souci palace|
|country||Haiti, Greater Antilles, Caribbean|
|location||Parc National Historique, south of Milot, Northern Haiti|
|meaning||important fortress of the Caribbean and symbol of Haiti’s struggle for independence|
Historic Buildings of Haiti: History
|10/6/1767||Birth of Henri Christophes as the son of a slave in Grenada|
|1775||Arrival of Henri Christophe in Santo Domingo (Hispaniola)|
|1791-1804||Revolt and struggle for independence against France|
|11/30/1803||French army withdraws after losing the Battle of Vertières|
|1.1.1804||Declaration of independence by Jean Jacques Dessalines, the later governor and emperor Jacques I.|
|11/17/1806||Death of Dessalines and division of the state into a northern and a southern state under the presidencies of Henri Christophe and Alexandre Péton respectively|
|1804-19||Construction of the citadel|
|1807-11||Presidency of Henri Christophe, founder of the Kingdom of North (Haiti)|
|2.6.1811||Coronation of Henri Christophe as King Henri I.|
|August 15, 1820||Henri I suffers a stroke|
|October 8, 1820||after popular uprising suicide of King Henri I.|
|1842||Earthquake and partial destruction of Sans Souci|
Sanssouci in the Caribbean
Henri Christophe is the most colorful figure in Haitian history. Christophe, who was born in Grenada and was enslaved in his youth, advanced to become one of the leaders of the Haitian war of independence against revolutionary France. As president, he directed the fortunes of the northern state he had proclaimed, part of what is now Haiti. During his presidency he was elected King Henri I and henceforth paid homage to a lavish lifestyle. The huge buildings commissioned by Henri Christophe were initially viewed by the black population as a symbol of liberation. The palace of Sans Souci, the citadel on Pic Laferrière and the forts of Ramiers were the first structures to be built in liberated Haiti.
According to politicsezine, the mighty citadel structure sits enthroned on a huge rock ledge at a height of 900 meters and from there allows a panoramic view over the northern lowlands to Cap Haitien. The walls of the impregnable fortress are 43 meters high and up to four meters thick. Tens of thousands toiled for more than a decade until the building was finally completed. Countless of the weakened men did not survive the hardships. The physically heavy work had drained her: the weight of the stones that had to be carried up the mountain in the scorching heat to a construction site as large as no one had seen before: the fortress measured 10,000 square meters after its completion. Fear of a French invasion drove the self-appointed ruler Henri I to build his fortress, and he had this stone bulwark armed to the edge of the battlements. A few thousand soldiers made up the permanent crew; As a precaution, an annual supply of food was stored. But the bastions and batteries were never attacked.
Not only in the Citadel Museum do you come across the artillery aimed at the French enemy, whom you expected to cross the Atlantic. Some are randomly lying unused and covered with rust behind the battlements. The dust of history has long since settled on the Spanish cannons that were set up in the Royal Battery. Carefully stacked cannonballs are meanwhile weathering on the eastern flank of the citadel.
The rear entrance to the citadel was guarded by a defensive complex consisting of four smaller forts called “Les Ramiers”, situated in a dramatic position on the top of a steep mountain ridge and now surrounded by dense vegetation and severely decaying.
The power-obsessed Henri Christophe held court in Sans Souci. The “Sun King of Haiti” received the princes, dukes, counts, barons and knights of his Caribbean empire appointed by him here. Today only the ruins of the once magnificent palace, which was built on the model of Versailles on an area of eight hectares, stand on a hill. The builders of the palace had to orientate themselves precisely to the dimensions of the French palace, and in fact, after completion, Sans Souci should hardly have been distinguishable from the estate of Louis XIV.
A splendid double flight of stairs once led up to the central reception hall, from which one could get to other banquet and ballrooms. These were equipped with crystal chandeliers from Italy and valuable tapestries from France. In the tropical heat, Henri I had his living area cool with cold mountain water that was passed through pipes under the marble floor. But the days of the selfish king were numbered: after a stroke, he was told that his subjects had revolted against him. When his bodyguards finally revolted, he committed suicide in Sans Souci – allegedly with a silver bullet. The castle was looted immediately afterwards and almost completely destroyed in the earthquake of 1842. Even today, Sans Souci is largely in ruins, and nothing can be seen of the former mahogany paneling of the ballroom. Lost high walls rise up from the ground floor of the once three-story palace. Only the mighty dome of the palace chapel has survived the turmoil of history unscathed.