Cap Haitien 

cap haitien cathedral

Cap-Haitien is the second largest city in Haiti after Port-au-Prince, with an estimated population of 190.000. It is a seaport city  located on the North Coast of the Country, a commercial center of an agricultural region where coffee, fruits and sugar are exported. The city was previously named Cap Français during the French colonial era, and was the richest city in the Caribbean. Cap-Haitien was so beautiful during the French colonization that it was surname "The Paris of the west" It was also the first capital of the Kingdom of Northern Haiti under Henry Christophe, which he named Cap- Henry.

Cap-Haitien is the highlights of Haitian History besides the cultural values of its architecture, Its well preserved  French colonial architecture, its calm water and picturesque beaches, gingerbread houses lining the older streets of the city, its Citadelle Laferriere considered by many to be the 8th man made wonder, it's famous Labadee beach, operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise, its isolation from political instabilities in Port-au-Prince, gave Cap-Haitien a greater foreign tourist activity than the rest of the country. Cap-Haitien have managed to retain the charms of yesteryear with its poignant history and the architectural legacy left by the French, despite being nearly destroyed by an earthquake in 1842. The amazing Sans Souci Palace among many other important buildings wasn't fortunate enough to withstand such a natural disaster, but the Citadelle stands still, proudly on top of the mountain, watching over the lush mountainous forest.


Citadelle
Laferrière
 

 It is the largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere and was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1982. The Citadelle Laferrière has itself become an icon of Haiti and without a doubt the most popular historical attractions in the country. The threat of the French retaking the island, led King Henry Christophe to the  building of this marvelous engineering accomplishment, as a place for the government to retreat to should it become necessary, and to spy any approaching invasion force. It took more than a decade and the labor of more than 20.000 workers to build this massive fortress. It is equipped with 365 cannons, in symbolization of fighting for Haiti's independence 365 days of the year; each with a unique, distinctive design; copious amounts of cannon balls are stacked in gigantic pyramids around the compound. The walls are more than 130 feet tall, and the Citadelle covers an enclosed area of more than 108.000 sq. ft. The foundation of the Citadelle Laferrière are embedded deep, straight into the stone of the mountain, Bonet L'Eveque. The storehouses and cisterns inside the Citadelle are build to hold enough food and drink for over 5.000 people for a full year and includes special rooms for the king, bakeries and bathing facilities. As a  small mountainous island, King Henry Christophe thought that a massive defense structures overlooking the ports of Cap-Haitien,  then Capital of Haiti was necessary to protect the country from French invasion, fortunately, the Citadelle never got used for its purpose as the french never came back to reclaim Haiti.  On a clear day, the coasts of Cuba can be seen from atop the wonder!

Cap-Haitien has witnessed some of the most crucial moments in Haiti's fight for independence, which included,the famous Batailles de Vertieres; The last battle for Haitian Independence on November 18, 1803. The decisive freedom blow and a major loss for the French Army. Over 200.000 french soldiers got killed in the City of Cap Haitien, during the Haitian revolution. There's a monument of the main commanders who led the Haitian army that day at the entrance of the city. It's Historical importance have won Cap-Haitien the title of History Capital of Haiti, the Jewel of the North and the city as a whole is a World Heritage Sites candidate. The Haitian Government have designated the City of Cap-Haitien as a national heritage, for its tremendous historical and cultural values. Cap-Haitien is the city that represents struggles, resistance and freedom. Each street, corner, monument has a captivating story behind them.

Besides the historical role it plays in the Haitian Culture, Cap-Haitien is a place where mother nature is also respected. People from Haiti call it the Grand Nord, It's beautiful, vast and tall. As you can imagine, Cap-Haitien is surrounded by tall mountains, lush vegetation and many beautiful springs and rivers. It's people are among the friendliest in the country. Besides their  distinctive accent, which sets them apart from everybody else,  it is very common for single women to say. " Mwen bezwen yon neg Au Cap." I need a man from Au-Cap; as is it generally believed that men from Cap-Haitien treat women better than men from other parts of the Country.

  Many of the country's food, are endemic to Cap-Haitien or have originated there. Such as the "Chaka" a of soup, with milled corn, black or red beans, salted meat; usually beef and pork; spices and different type of vegetables are added to give it a wild exquisite taste.

In 2012, Cap Haitien was be the host of Haiti's National Carnival. No need to mention the level of anticipation in Haiti and in the Diaspora. The city is expected to attract over 40.000 people from abroad during the festivities, good thing it has many hotels, and the nice Haitians of Cap-Haitien will open their house to accommodate those without a hotel room. Doesn't matter where you stay though, because you will experience the beauty, charm and the history of Haiti regardless. There is a regional Airport in Cap-Haitien, with daily flights from Port-au-Prince. The travel duration is no more than 25 minutes, so you can stay in one of the many luxurious hotel that had recently opened in Petion-Ville, and take a quick flight to enjoy the  carnival.  IBC has also recently announced its plan to offer direct flight to Cap-Haitien from Fort-Lauderdale, Florida. The Haitian government is expected to spend nearly U$ 10 million on the festivities to make it a success. In terms f security, an estimated 5 thousand police will be deployed in the city, to assure the security of festival goers. Better start booking a hotel now, from what I've been hearing, there are no more hotel rooms, but I encourage you to double check just in case. The one tip I have for the trip is. Take plenty of pictures and help Haiti recover from its image assassination around the world. 

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