It is always difficult to talk about tourism in a place where the endogenous forces of nature have brought death and destruction. We are talking about Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, on 12 January 2010 it was devastated by an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 that, because of its shallow hypocenter, has produced serious damage, and a staggering number of casualties, tens of thousands, but the official number is still shrouded in great uncertainty. The reconstruction is slow and difficult, and it is practically impossible to retrieve accurate information about what was recovered and what percentage, and then be able to update readers about the state of the monuments and attractions of the capital of Haiti. But with the conviction that tourism can become a hope for this troubled island, we tried to collect more detailed information as possible about Port-au-Prince, hoping that a little ‘time to the flow of tourists to contribute redemption of this city.
Founded by the French in 1742, Port-au-Prince was the capital of the colony of Saint Domingue in 1749 after the island was inhabited first by indigenous people (Tainos, Arawaks) and subsequently occupied by the Spaniards. Located in the center of the great Gulf of Gonave, in the western part of the island of Hispaniola right in front of the Cuban coast in the Caribbean Sea, the city has been over the centuries an important strategic military thanks to its port. Gained independence from France in 1804, but remained divided until 1820, thanks to the unification Haiti was finally able to have its own capital, which has remained so to this day.
During the nineteenth century the city has grown very quickly, developing paradoxically even more in the first half of the twentieth century by the U.S. military occupation, which brought improvements to infrastructure and a general modernization.
With almost three million (officially counted but those are about half) Port-au-Prince is the heart of economic and political as well as cultural country, and the number of people who live in is still growing as the continued influx of people who went there groped for the lot, only to find an accommodation only in the suburbs or in the slums. The estimates are even more uncertain if we consider the effects of the earthquake of 2010. The city’s economy is based on tourism and the food and fish, always very active, since the last century, is the largest commercial port.
For a beautiful panoramic view of the city you can go to the fortress of Cap Haitienne, built by slaves on the island during the struggle for the independence of Haiti, but about the capital is not easy at first glance: the hills on which stands and arrangement rather chaotic roads make it difficult to have points of reference, it may be useful to remember that the Grand Rue through Port-au-Prince from north to south, while the Champs de Mars, the green area par excellence of the city, located in the center and is also home to the Palais National and major international hotels, and not far from this area, just to the north, is the Cathédrale de la Sainte Trinité. This area is, however, struggling to rise again after the disastrous effects of the earthquake of January 2010.
During the visit to the town surely cannot miss a walk in the Champs de Mars, a large area made up of avenues that divide numerous parks, where there is the opportunity to relax or, alternatively, to visit important museums housing, such as Musée d’Art Haitien – that collects historical colonial and naive fantastic works of local artists – and the Musée du Panthéon National, while the above-mentioned Palais National, much like the White House, the U.S. cannot be visited by the public. Throughout the areas are space statues and monuments of every shape and size, from the statue to Marron Inconnu (Unknown Slave) to those dedicated to the founding fathers of the nation through the monument celebrating the bicentenary of Haiti; fans can really togliersene desire.
The two most famous churches of the city, located a few block away from one another, are the Episcopal Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, which is notorious for its interior, filled with Christian paintings made by the leading exponents of the art of Haiti – and that of Notre Dame, just north of the de la Cathédrale Sainte Trinité, in the neighborhood of Bel Air, always very busy and the first cathedral in the world to be built in reinforced concrete. Both were severely damaged in the earthquake of early 2010.
The Marché de Fer (Iron Market) is a building located in downtown Port-au-Prince and in style rather strange here; recalls Arab geometries (it was originally designed by the French to Cairo, only to find this accommodation by the will of the president Hyppolite) and is open every day. It is divided into two macro-sectors: one entirely dedicated to crafts, which also includes objects of strong local voodoo religion, and one purely food where you can find all sorts of edible product Haitian, all – it is almost clearly – in a joyously filling of colors and flavors. What you will see is the recent reconstruction was completed in 2011 to more than a year after the earthquake.
The main business of the city find their natural accommodation in Petionville, a wealthy suburb of the capital hill where wealthy families reside, the district is located around the Place Saint-Pierre is a bit world apart from the standard Caribbean island.
For those lucky enough to be in town during Carnival in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, it is suggested to participate in the parade that runs through the streets of downtown to the Champs de Mars, here singing, dancing and merriment going on up late at night, in a flurry of sounds and colors.
Port-au-Prince has two airports, one national and one international (Aéroport International Toussaint Louverture) on the northern outskirts of the city and is accessible from Europe, from North America and other Caribbean countries with some of the leading airlines worldwide. The airport is connected to the city by taxi and minibus (taptaps), the first is always a good idea to first determine the price of the journey with the driver (usually twenty dollars), while in the second case the price of the ticket is very less, approximately 15-20 euro cents, even if it is necessary, once you’ve gotten the obligatory stop, take a taxi to the city center.
However, it is important to remember again that the devastating earthquake of January 2010 has claimed hundreds of thousands of deaths and put literally devastated the country, in the capital, between others, the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral had been seriously damaged Haiti is currently experiencing a particularly difficult time in its history, and we must take this into account if you want to organize a trip here.
Originally posted 2012-10-10 06:56:05.