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Haiti: Palace Sans-Souci

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Palace Sans-Souci | Haiti | Americas

[Visited: July 2007]

Part of the unique and very interesting history of Haiti is the story of Henri Christophe. Born in Grenada, he was taken to the French colony of Saint Domingue in the late 18th century, to become one of the prominent figures of the Haitian revolution in 1791. A few years after Haiti reached independence and became the first Black Republic in 1804 (and the only country where slaves successfully revolted against their masters), he participated in a coup against Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the first leader of independent Haiti.

Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Ruins of Sans-Souci Palace near Milot

Henri Christophe then established himself as the president of Northern Haiti, and turned the north of the country into a kingdom in 1811, proclaiming himself king. Construction of the Palace Sans-Souci started in 1810 and finished in 1813, and served as a residence for the self-made monarch until the end of his life. It was during these years that he also started construction of the Citadelle La Ferrière, uphill from Sans-Souci Palace. The palace was modeled after the Sansssouci Palace in Potsdam, Germany, and on its 8 hectare terrain included not just the king's residence, but also military barracks, administrative buildings, prisons, etcetera. The end of Henri Christophe came when people turned against him. When he was crippled in 1820, rather than facing a possible revolt, he shot himself - some say in the Palace Sans-Souci itself, some say in the Citadelle La Ferrière that he did not even live to see finished. He is buried in the Citadelle, so much is sure.

Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): View from Palace Sans-Souce

While on the bus from Cap Haïtien, we wondered where we should get off, but as soon as the bus came to a halt on a cobble stone square, we knew we had arrived. Above us, we saw the ruins of Palace Sans-Souci. We came past the palace on our way up to the Citadelle La Ferrière, but on the way down, we took time to visit the ruins properly. Coming down from the hill, we appreciated the widely spread buildings, and could better imagine the vast buildings that must have stood here before the earthquake of 1842 destroyed most of the palace. Pieces of the palace has been taken away to be used elsewhere for construction, and people living in Milot just walk across the palace to wherever they are heading. Once the palace of an autocratic monarch, it has now really become a palace of the people.

Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Contour of the ruins of Henri Christophe's Palace Sans-Souci
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): View of Palace Sans-Souci with Milot in the background
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Ruins of the Palace Sans-Souci seen from below
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Remains of Palace Sans-Souci, courtyard and statue
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Remaining pillar of the Palace Sans-Souci
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Palace Sans-Souci
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Detail of Palace Sans-Souci
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): One part of Palace Sans-Souci
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Palace Sans-Souci: curved corner of Henri Christophe's palace
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Palace Sans-Souci: detail of the ruins of this vast palace
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): View towards Milot from Palace Sans-Souci
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Entrance to Palace Sans-Souci
Picture of Palace Sans-Souci (Haiti): Church of Milot at the foot of Palace Sans-Souci

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