View of the Citadelle Laferrière from the trail at its base. The iconic mountaintop fortress is located on top of the Bonnet a L’Eveque mountain at 3,000 feet (910 m), approximately 17 miles (27 km) south of Cap-Haïtien.
The Citadelle Laferrière’s construction was led by Henri Christophe, a key leader during the Haitian slave rebellion (1791–1804), and 20,000 workers between 1805 and 1820 as part of a defense system designed to keep the newly independent nation of Haiti safe from French incursions on the north coast.
During and after Haiti’s war of independence versus France, Henri Christophe served as a general in the Haitian army and chief administrator of the country's northern regions. In 1806, Alexandre Pétion launched a successful coup against Haiti's emperor, Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Dessalines's death led to a power struggle between Christophe and Pétion, which ended with Haiti divided into northern and southern states, with the north under Christophe's presidency by 1807. He declared himself king in 1811 and remained as such until he suffered a severe stroke that led him to take his own life in 1820. Shortly after, general Jean-Pierre Boyer came to power and reunited the two parts of Haiti. The Citadelle Laferrière remains as a relic of these times.
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