Sans Souci Palace

Palace-3By Shawn Vallee

Sans Souci Palace, with its Baroque staircase and classical terraces, stands as magnificent remains of a once splendid palace. Recognized for its immense gardens, the palace grounds are reminiscent of the stepped gardens of Potsdam and Vienna. Attention should also be given to its masterfully planned system of waterworks and artificial springs. The canals and basins throughout the gardens are inspired by the Grand Canal of Versailles.

Situated at the base of a spectacular mountain range, Sans Souci Palace is near the access road to the Citadel and close to the village of Milot. Milot is translated from French to mean “carefree.” Sightseers may feel that way while they are drawn to the Palace’s grand facade, sweeping staircases and monumental prominence of this aging, yet graceful building. The walls have been burnished by weather and time, revealing a multitude of colors on the rocky surfaces, and leaving a watercolor impression of this royal residence.

Fences now surround this national treasure, yet visitors are still permitted to walk around the ruins. Villagers are often available for guided walking tours with personalized accounts of local history. Past events of the area are reflected in the varied and vibrant little town of Milot that surrounds this serene structure.

palaceSans Souci Palace is in the process of being restored and will always be a valuable part of Haitian history. It is a demonstration of Haiti’s diverse architectural accomplishments as well as a monument to Haiti’s struggle for liberty.

Sans Souci Palace demonstrates the architectural style and splendor that at one time, made it one of the most admired structures of the West Indies. For the sake of its historical significance and uncontested artistry, efforts are being made to preserve and restore this masterful monument.

Constructed in the 19th century as the grandest of Henri Christophe’s many residences, he resided there with his wife, Queen Marie Louise, and two daughters.

Henri Christophe is a powerful and polarizing historical figure in Haiti. He was a former slave that became a key leader in the Haitian revolution.

Palace-2He rose to general under Jean-Jacques Dessallines. Dessallines was the principal leader of the Haitian Revolution. After years of struggle, black slaves rebelled against the colonists to successfully proclaim the independent Republic of Haiti.

Christophe proclaimed himself king in 1811 when Dessallines died and the Haitian Republic became divided into southern and northern states. Henri Christophe reigned over the northern part of the country until his death. During his leadership he set out to build many structures in Haiti including the Sans Souci Palace as well as the Citadel.

Sans Souci Palace was once a symbol of prestige and remains one of Haitian-built pride of engineering. While it is no longer the center of extravagant feasts and dances, it continues to entertain many foreign visitors with its outstanding universal appeal.



Shawn Vallee has spent over 15 years in advertising agencies in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Greater Boston area. She is married and lives in wooded bliss in Pelham, Massachusetts. She is passionate about travel, volleyball, inline skating and anything that makes her laugh. In her spare time she loves taking long walks on country roads with her husband and her dog Rocket.