Near the center of the bustling port city of Halifax, on a high point of land overlooking Halifax Harbour, you will find the 19th century military fort, the Citadel. The present structure of steep masonary walls and numerous stone lined underground rooms, was completed in 1856 and is the fourth in a series of British Forts at the site. Today, the restored complex is a national historic site, commemorating Halifax's role as a key naval station of an earlier British empire.
To find the Citadel, drive to downtown Halifax and look for Sackville Street near the corner of Brunswick Street. If you are walking, look for the Town Clock just below the Citadel on the Harbour side and the signal flags flying high atop the Citadel wall corner ramparts. A set of stairs begins just below the Town Clock and continues above it to the fort entrance. Pedestrian access is also available at the Sackville Street entrance and tour buses disembark visitors at a small parking lot near the fort gates.
There is ample history to review and many interesting displays to see at this old military garrison. We paid a nominal fee of $5 to enter and you can easily spend 2 to 3 hours in order to take in everything that this site offers. A good place to start is the Visitor Center in the Cavalier Building. Guided tours that take about 45 minutes to complete are offered and provide a wealth of historic information. You are given a brochure that shows the garrison layout, including the location of a sight and sound presentation called The Tide of History, available in both French and English.
A daily firing of a cannon at noon is a ritual upheld since the mid 19th century. Exhibits of early military life in the Citadel are everywhere. As well, you can observe precision drills in the parade square of soldiers in 1800s military dress. This includes the 78th Highlanders who occuppied the fort from 1869 to 1871.
Parks Canada offer an excellent booklet entitled "Vacation Planner Mainland Nova Scotia" free of charge if you desire more information about the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site as well as a dozen more sites and exhibits. For additional information you can call 1-902-426-3436
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