By: Ford Pierre
The Palace of the Belle River, or Palace of 365 Doors is among the most beautiful tourist sites in Haiti, a true masterpiece of art and culture. architecture, whose fame is based on its splendor and in particular its 365 doors. In reality, around two centuries old, this fascinating building, close to the Artibonite river, remains a source of curiosity with its beautiful, ingenious but above all unusual structure. In this article you will discover some details that you do not know about this magnificent royal castle, the darling of the commune of Petite rivière de l'Artibonite.
Historical Background of the Palace of 365 Doors in Haiti
The “Belle Rivière Palace”, better known as the “365-door palace”, is located precisely in Petite Rivière de l'Artibonite, built during the reign of King Henri Christophe, in order to better establish his kingdom on the entire extent of the greater northern region of Haiti, particularly in the department of Artibonite.
This building was built between the years 1816 and 1820, by a French architect named Louis Dupeyrac, to serve as a residence for Henri 1er, nicknamed "king builder" according to history, because of his many constructions during his period of governance of the northern part of Haiti, divided at the time after the assassination of the father of Haitian independence, Jean Jacques Dessalines.
Construction of the Haitian Belle-Rivière palace
Its construction started in 1816, but was still under construction during the fall of the kingdom of the North, in October 1820, the Belle-Rivière palace, which should have been composed of several levels, unfortunately remained unfinished. On the other hand, in terms of importance, this palace is the second after that of Sans Souci, on the list of nine built by Christophe.
It should be noted that the Palais de la Belle-Rivière had already undergone major restoration and completion work as part of an intervention that was made under the presidency of Sténio Vincent, in April 1932. According to the 'ISPAN, the building has a rectangular plan 68 meters long and 11 meters wide. Its walls are made of stone masonry and clay bricks, bound by a lime mortar. On its west facade is attached a vast rotunda, 12 meters in diameter. The east facade, rear, is distinguished in its axis by a projection surmounted by a reinforced concrete pediment, added during the intervention of 1932. At the same time, it was decided to provide the roof with a sheet metal cover. corrugated supported by a wooden frame. The structure of the palace, then in ruins, was consolidated, its walls coated with cement plaster and its numerous openings fitted with wooden shutters.
About 82 years later, under the presidency of Michel Joseph Martelly, a second rehabilitation of this monument was carried out by the National Heritage Preservation Institute (ISPAN). This restoration and exterior development work took place under the direction of the Haitian architect Philippe Châtelain.
Contrary to what we believed, the palace with 365 doors does not really have 365 doors. Indeed, King Henry had the project to build this building with several levels and a total of 365 doors, but he could not achieve this goal. So the building is so called, because of its many openings.
Classified as National Heritage of the Republic of Haiti by a presidential decree published on August 23, 1995, it is a place of memory symbolizing a glorious past of the Haitian people.