Number Five Things to Do in All of Haiti By Skite Polis
If you think museums are boring, think again! While some treat museum stops as quiet places to hang out, others make museum tours a big part of their travel itinerary. Whatever camp you’re in, don’t miss the “Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien” (referred to by the locals as the MUNUPAH). This friendly urban oasis even sports a shallow rooftop pool to spice up its quiet ambience. What makes it absorbing, though, is its showcase of Haitian history and knowledgeable guides who really know their stuff.
Another fun fact: what you see above ground is an enticing sculpture-garden sitting area; when you venture underneath, it’s like going full-on Indiana Jones. Most of the museum is underground, a clever construction concept that probably saved it from the 2010 earthquake.
This architecture sets MUPANAH apart from most other museums. It opened in 1983, but has remained well kept for all these years thanks to the efforts of the friendly staff. Be forewarned: the museum is not camera-friendly. This only means that the museum’s displays are definitely worth seeing – plus, you’ll focus more on the information given to you by the staff, who can imparts all sorts of fascinating tales about Haiti’s glorious past.
Perhaps MUPANAH’s most intriguing piece is the gigantic 13-foot-high rusted anchor salvaged from the Santa Maria, one of the ships that Columbus sailed.
The museum is home to amazing collections of historical pieces gathered from across the Caribbean. Perhaps MUPANAH’s most intriguing piece is the gigantic 13-foot-high rusted anchor salvaged from the Santa Maria, one of the ships that Columbus sailed. The vessel ran aground in 1492 on Christmas Eve in what is known today as Cap-Haïtien, on Haiti’s northern coast. Columbus was an impressive sailor, and the museum pays him appropriate consideration. Elsewhere, there are remnants – including such as regal robes and fantastic crowns that once belonged to King Henry I and Emperor Faustin I – dating from the time of Haiti’s various monarchies. You can even see the pistol that the King Henry used to shoot himself. Seeing these items in person is a thrill.
Getting here is as easy as eating a piece of delicious pie in a downtown Port-au-Prince restaurant, since the museum is conveniently located in the heart of the city. The MUPANAH is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Thursday. An extra hour is available on Fridays, but hours on Saturdays and Sundays are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On holidays, follow Saturday hours. The $5 USD entrance fee is a pittance in comparison to the amount of Caribbean history that you’ll learn.
COME EXPERIENCE IT:
Location: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Transportation: Local transportation
Hotels nearby: Palm Inn, Hotel Oloffson
Restaurants nearby: Magdoos, Epi d’Or