Citadelle Laferrière: Largest Fortress in the Americas

Located in the Nord department of Haiti, Citadelle Laferrière holds the title of being the largest fortress in the Americas. The fortress is on the Bonnet à l’Evêque mountaintop, nearly a kilometer above the ground, covering an area of 10,000 m2. Moreover, the fortress is the national symbol of Haitian independency and the end of slavery in the country. Citadelle Laferrière holds a special place in the history and the hearts of Haitians and is the icon of their sovereignty.

Citadelle Laferrière

The history of Haiti, unfortunately, begins with the arrival of the white colonizers and the near eradication of the natives. Starting with the Spanish and then the French, Haiti was under the control of the colonizing European nations. In addition to the Europeans, the population of Haiti mostly consisted of the slaves that they brought from West Africa. The slaves were working and living under very harsh and cruel conditions. However, after the French Revolution, the slaves in the country started to revolt as well. Just a short time after the beginning of the revolt, the Haitians beat the French and announced their independency. This made Haiti the first black republic in the world.

Citadelle Laferrière close up

The most famous figure of this revolt was Henri Christophe who also became the first leader of Haiti as well. Although they declared independency and beat the French, Christophe feared that Napoleon might plan an invasion to reclaim Haiti. Therefore, he commisioned the construction of a fortress in the higher ground which would be a safe haven if the French ever attacked. That fortress became to be known as Citadelle Laferrière or Citadelle Henri Christophe.

Citadelle Laferrière haiti

Citadelle Laferrière was fully ready to thwart the French and provide for the Haitians inside it. It had high walls, an armory consisting of 365 cannons, thousands of ammunition, and storage units that could feed nearly 5000 people for a year.

Citadelle Laferrière from above

Fortunately for the Haitians, the French never attacked the fortress and it managed to survive till this day. Today, Citadelle Laferrière is one of the most popular destinations in Haiti both for the locals and the tourists. The fortress is the most important cultural and historical icon of the country and is on the conservation list.

Citadelle Laferrière and the road
fortress cannon ball
fortress armory
fortress statue
Chris Lyons