Halifax Citadel: Canada’s Most Visited National Historic Site

September 14, 2019

Halifax Citadel: Canada’s Most Visited National Historic Site

If you've ever been to Halifax, you have probably seen the Citadel.  The city owes its existence to the Citadel, so it is no surprise it is one of Canada's National Historic Sites.

The British founded Halifax in 1749, with the citadel overlooking the easily-defended harbour below.  The first building in this new town was a wooden guardhouse perched right at the peak of the hill.  Settlers built their homes at the base of the hill, with more people settling as the fort expanded.

The present citadel was completed in 1856, and is officially called Fort George after King George II.  However, underneath and amongst the present structure lie the remains of 3 other, older fortifications that were updated over time.  Perhaps due to its impressive and intimidating design, the fort was never attacked (despite being prepared for enemy forces).

In 1935, the Halifax Citadel was designated a National Historic Site.  In the 1990s, Parks Canada fully restored the fort to its 1869 appearance.  Parks Canada continues to manage the site today.

While the Citadel no longer serves a military purpose, it still overlooks the city from its high vantage point and has become part of the landscape of Halifax. Visitors can visit the site and watch as historical re-enactors perform sentry changes, act out the daily lives of residents of the fort, and carry out military operations.  They can become a soldier for a day, or maybe take a ghost walk if they want something spookier!  There is something for everyone, which is why it isn't surprising that this is the most visited National Historic Site in Canada.

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