You can't miss the Citadel, literally or figuratively. Erected between 1826 and 1856 on Halifax's highest hill, it still dominates the skyline and, as Canada's most-visited National Historic Site, remains a magnet for tourists. The present citadel, with its dry moat and stone ramparts, was the fourth defensive structure to be built on the site, and formerly was linked to smaller forts and gun emplacements on the harbor islands and the bluffs above the harbor entrance.
A multimedia presentation that runs every 15 minutes recounts this story. You can visit the barracks, guard room, and powder magazine before heading for the parade ground to watch reenactors, sporting kilts and tall feather "bonnets," practice their drills. If you book ahead, you can participate in full uniform in the "Soldier for a Day" program ($199), which for adults includes learning how to handle and fire a weapon. Tours that help bring the history of both the fort and the city to life take place throughout the day in high season, but the best time to visit is just before noon when the Noon Gun is fired—a tradition since 1857. The Citadel is also home to the Army Museum, with excellent exhibits and a War Art Gallery. Before leaving the Citadel, pause to enjoy the view. In front of you are the spiky downtown buildings, crowded between the hilltop and the harbor; the wooded islands at the harbor's mouth; and the naval dockyard. Behind you is the 235-acre Halifax Common with its ball fields, tennis courts, playground, skateboard park, and open green. Worried about losing track of time while touring? Don't be. Simply keep an eye on Citadel Hill's Town Clock. Given to Halifax by Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (the military commander here from 1794 to 1800), it has ticked in its octagonal tower for more than 200 years.
Citadel Hill, 5425 Sackville St., Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 3Y3, Canada