La Citadelle © Anya Scholtz
The Citadelle Laferrière was built in the first part of the 19th century after the country won its independence from France. Near Cap-Haïtien, it is perched atop a mountain that is five miles (8km) uphill from the nearest town. The fortress is large and extremely imposing and the atmosphere of the place is only enhanced by the fact that it is overgrown and forgotten, with moss and weeds reclaiming the staircases, courtyards and rooms; the Citadelle was never actually used and you get the impression that everything has been waiting, ready for war, for a very long time. The fortress has 365 cannons and numerous cannonballs, as well as dungeons, storehouses, cisterns and bakery ovens. There are some signs and information available but it is not comprehensive and it is best to hire one of the local guides to explain the history of the place. The views are astounding and on a clear day you can see all the way to Cuba; for photographers the Citadelle is a dream. The roads to this amazing attraction are unfortunately in very bad shape and the trip from Port-au-Prince is rough. Once at the little village beneath the fortress, visitors can either hike or ride horseback up the steep hillside, though the obvious mistreatment of the animals may put you off the latter option.
Admission: Free entry.