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Cap-Haïtien (Okap or Kapayisyen in Kréyòl) is a city of about 190,000 people on the north coast of Haiti and capital of the Department of Nord. Previously, named as Cap-Français, Cap-Henri, and le Caps, it was an important city during the colonial period, serving as the capital of the French Colony of Saint-Domingue from the city`s formal foundation in 1711 until 1770 when the capital was moved to Port-au-Prince, and was also the first capital of the Kingdom of Northern Haiti under King Henri Christophe. One of the first Spanish towns on Hispaniola, Puerto Real, was founded near here in 1503; abandoned in 1578, its ruins were discovered in 1975.
Cap-Haïtien is the city of the historic Haïtian town of Milot, which lies 12 miles to the southwest along a gravel road. Milot was Haïti's first site capital under the self-proclaimed King Henri Christophe, who ascended to power in 1807, three years after Haïti had gained independence from France, renaming the city as Cap-Henri. As a result, Milot hosts the ruins of the Sans-Souci Palace, wrecked by the 1842 earthquake, as well as the Citadelle Laferrière, a massive stone fortress bristling with cannons. The Citadelle is located five miles from Milot, atop a nearby mountain. On clear days, its silhouette is visible from Cap-Haïtien.