Port-au-Prince On a BudgetPort-au-Prince is the capital city and most-populous city of Haiti. The metropolitan area is divided into several districts with access to a number of landmarks and museums, as well as a lively cultural scene.
SightsThe center of culture and activity in Port-au-Prince was once the National Palace, which was the official residence of the President of Haiti until it was severely damaged in the 2010 earthquake. It has since been demolished, though plans are in the works for reconstruction. This location still marks the center of the city. Just across the street visitors frequent the Musee du Pantheon National Haïtien-a museum showcasing Haitian independence and culture with works of art, important artifacts, and lovely outdoor fountains.
As far as architectural landmarks go, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption is Port-au-Prince's largest cathedral, though it has also seen some damage due to the earthquake. Other important sites include the Archives Nationales, the Bibliotheque Nationale (National Library), and Expressions Art Gallery. While many efforts have been underway to rebuild and modernize the city, there are still many places that have remnants of rubble from the natural disaster.
For a day trip, tourists also travel to Fort Jacques, one of Haiti's few national parks. It can be reach via a drive of about 45 minutes up the mountain to the village of Fermathe. Here you will find a preserved pine forest and views overlooking the city.
NeighborhoodsThe metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince is divided into several districts of all classes radiating from the center. The downtown is the center of modernization efforts, especially following earthquake damage. Petion-Ville is an affluent suburb of the city, located on the city outskirts to the south over the hills of the Massif de la Selle. Separated from the rest of the city, this area is mainly a residential and tourist location. Delmas is another district, situated just to the south of the airport and north of the city center. It is Port-au-Prince's commercial and industrial center. Some of the poorer districts that tourists might want to avoid include Carrefour and Cite Soleil, both of which are located on the Port-au-Prince Bay.
ActivitiesSightseeing, visiting museums, and sampling the local flavors and culture of Port-au-Prince are all part of the tourist experience in the city. One unique way to delve deeper into this experience is to explore some of the local markets. The Marche de fer, or Iron Market, is one of the busiest, densely packed with vendors selling everything from local handicrafts and souvenirs to fresh produce and street food.
Another worthwhile market can be found in Croix des Bouquets, a suburb of Port-au-Prince. It is called the Village Artistique, or Artist Village, and features iron artisans who craft metal works of art from recycled materials. It is a neat experience to see the artists at work and the prices are the best around.
Food and DiningHaitian food is a Creole cuisine with influences from the French, African, Taino natives, and Spanish peoples who populated the western parts of Hispaniola. Herbs, spices, and peppers are used in almost every dish. In the city, visitors will come across street vendors selling snacks and Haitian specialties. Be sure to get recommendations from trusted locals on good street food to quell any safety concerns. A few main courses include items like chicken and cashews in a tomato-based sauce, cornmeal with beans and stewed chicken, a variety of stews made with local grains and vegetables, fried meats (pork, beef, goat, etc.), grilled seafood (lobster, conch, crab, fish, etc.), and much more. Other common ingredients include rice and beans, breadfruit, plantains, mushrooms, and avocado. Pikliz, or pickled vegetables in a spicy vinegar sauce, is a popular side item. Port-au-Prince is also known for its power shakes which can replace a meal when made with the right combination of nutritious ingredients. For a traditional beverage try a rum sour or a Cremas, an alcoholic beverage made of coconut and vanilla. Also remember to only drink bottled water.
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