Citadelle Laferrière History

The construction of the Citadelle was initiated by Henri Christophe - former slave and one of the leaders of the Haitian slave rebellion who later became the king of Haiti.

This mountaintop fortress was built from 1805 to 1820 in the aftermath of the slave revolution of Haiti 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 system of fortifications also included Fort Jacques and Fort Alexandre.

The Citadelle’s location on the top of a mountain was chosen to foresee and repel the attacks of the enemy. The height of the mountain Bonnet a L’Eveque is 950 meters, and provides an exceptional visibility of the surrounding landscape. It is even possible to see the eastern coast of Cuba on some days, which is located on the distance of 140 km from the Citadelle.

The Citadelle Laferrière is practically unassailable. External walls of the fortress are 130 feet high and 10 feet thick. Its foundation stones are directly fastened to the mountain rocks. The entire complex has an area of 10,000 square meters.

The fortress has numerous storehouses and water cisterns, designed for storing enough food and water to supply 5000 people during a whole year. No wonder that the construction of the fortress lasted 15 years from 1805 to 1820 and required 20,000 workers.

The efforts of Henri Christophe without any doubt were more than successful.

He managed to create not only the biggest fortress of the Western hemisphere, but also a fortification with an adamant security system, which later inspired the construction of numerous other fortresses all over the region.

The efforts of Henri Christophe, however, were unnecessary and in vain, because French attack never came and the Citadelle was later abandoned. 

The fortress was damaged by numerous earthquakes and renovated several times.

The latest renovations took place in 1980s, but the general design of the Citadelle Laferrière has remained untouched and in its initial form.


Haiti Tourism Board

8, rue Légitime (Champs de Mars), Port-au-Prince, Haïti (W.I)

Phone: +(509) 3816-0100 / 3816-0002