Sans-Souci Palace and Citadelle Henry: The Striking Monuments Of Liberties Built By Freed Slaves Of Haiti

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Sans souci Palace Image Wikimedia Commonsdidier Moïse


In 1804, revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared independence for the Caribbean island community of Haiti. The guerillas’ struggle for independence had paid off. The striking liberties monuments of Sans-Souci Palace and Citadelle Henry were built by Haitian freed slaves.

But Jean-Jacques also considered how to preserve their liberty.

General Henri Christophe was tasked with erecting fortresses on the Pic Laferriere to commemorate the newly independent nation’s status.

According to UNESCO, one of these monuments is Citadelle Henry, which stands 970 meters tall. It is regarded as one of Haiti’s 19th-century military architecture masterpieces.

The National History Park – Citadel, Sans-Souci, Ramiers was another monument designed by the revolutionary leader.

The drawings were created by Haitian Henry Barre.

The fact that these monuments to liberty were built by freed black slaves is significant.

The need for these fortresses was to strengthen the young nation’s defenses against internal and external aggression.

A presidential decree was issued in 1978 to turn the citadel into a belt to protect the natural environment of Haiti’s mountainous region. The imposing structure, known as the monumental ensemble, included the Palace of Sans-Souci, the Citadelle Henry, and the Ramiers site.

The Citadelle Henry occupies a large plot of land, with four towers guarding the structure built around a central courtyard and military garrisons stationed at strategic points. Because of the military architecture that surrounds it, the citadel is regarded as one of the most impenetrable fortresses of its time. It can hold an average of 2000 military officers and up to 5000.

When the revolutionary leader died in 1806, Haiti was divided into two sections, the southern controlled by Peton and the northern controlled by Christopher, who declared himself king in 1811.

These tyrants, however, did not desecrate the citadel’s architecture. Christophe, in fact, established the military base in 1813. He adorned the citadel by erecting an imposing palace surrounded by gardens on the way to the fortress. The structure served as the de facto seat of government, from which the king carried out his mandate and ruled the new nation. The structure that housed the palace became King Henry’s royal residence until his death in 1820.

The gardens, fountains, and basins that adorned the structure added to its opulence. The Palace Sans-Souchi was built in 1813 but was demolished after the king died in 1820. An earthquake in 1842 further harmed it, destroying its original outlook.

Despite the ruins, it is still visually appealing. This is due in part to the location’s mountainous setting.

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