Visitor guide

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

Plan your trip to the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site with this Visitor Guide and map.

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Halifax Citadel National Historic Site Visitor Guide

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Welcome to the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

For millennia, Kjipuktuk (the Great Harbour) has been home to the Mi’kmaq people, a gathering place, and a place to hunt and fish. Beginning in the late 15th century, Europeans came here to fish and trade, and shelter from the harsh North Atlantic. In 1749, Britain chose the location to construct a strategic naval base to counter the threat that Louisbourg, the French port on Cape Breton Island, posed to New England.

Four versions of the Citadel have protected that naval base and the town of Halifax. The early forts were built of earth and logs, the first serving through the Seven Years War, the second during the American Revolution, and the third during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. After 1815, British authorities decided that the old wooden forts defending Canada’s strategic strong points, including the Citadel, should be replaced by more powerful and permanent works of stone. Construction of a fourth Citadel began in 1828 and continued until 1856.

In addition to its military role in the defence of the port, the Citadel was home for thousands of soldiers and their families, many who chose to settle here.

In 1867, British North America became the Dominion of Canada, but the continuing importance of Halifax as a port for the Royal Navy saw British troops remain here until 1906. After that the Citadel was occupied by the Canadian military and remained active through two World Wars until 1952, when it was transferred from the Department of National Defence to Parks Canada.

Please visit our many exhibits to learn more.

Activities and experiences

Step through the gate of the Halifax Citadel and back in time! Discover what life was like for British troops who lived here in the year 1869, when Queen Victoria reigned and the new nation of Canada was just two years old.

You will also encounter other time periods, for the Citadel was an active military installation for over two hundred years, first for the British Army and then the Canadian Army.

Explore the site

Explore the ramparts and tunnels and visit our historic spaces to experience what life was like in a bygone era.

Follow the list of numbered exhibits and attractions on the site map, or choose what to see based on the type of attraction that best suits you.

Exhibits and attractions by type

Use the site map to plan your self-guided tour of the exhibits and attractions.

Living history

Our living history program brings to life various elements of the Citadel’s garrison, including the famous 78th Highlanders and the 3rd Brigade, Royal Artillery, 1869 to 1871. 

Sentry changes 

Every hour, the sentry at the main gate is changed in a formal ceremony.

The Noon Gun

Noon in Halifax is announced by the firing of the Noon Gun, a tradition that has continued every day since at least 1856.

Drill demonstrations

Inspections, troop reviews, squad drills and larger maneuvers occur on the Citadel’s parade square.

Performances of the Pipes and Drums of the 78th Highlanders take place at various times during the day.

Rifle and Cannon Firing demonstrations 

Individual rifle firing demonstrations are carried out several times each day, with larger demonstrations of rifle, musket, and cannon firings between mid-June and August 31.

Special programs

Enhance your visit by taking part in one or more of our special programs. Inquire at the Information Centre.

Take the Citadel Adventure!

With your interactive comic book and spy kit, search the Citadel to find the clues that will help you complete your secret mission. Ages 6-13.

Club Parka

Club Parka Citadel activity booklets perfect for kids ages 2-5. Explore the fort and do the activities, then collect your special souvenir.

Parks Canada Xplorers

Parks Canada Xplorers Citadel activity booklet for kids aged 6-11. Explore the fort and do the activities, then collect your special souvenir.

Explore more of the Halifax Defence Complex

Visit Georges Island National Historic Site in the heart of Halifax Harbour, the place the Mi’kmaq called Kjipuktuk or “The Great Harbour,” and enjoy scenic views from a new perspective! Discover the island’s key role in our history, from the internment of Acadians in the 18th century to the defence of Canada during the 19th and 20th centuries.

To find out more, go to:

On site services

Coffee Shop

Stop in for refreshments or a light meal in the “Coffee Bar” adjacent to the historic Soldiers’ Library. Or choose to take your lunch ‘out’ and find your Perfect Picnic place within the walls of the fort or on the grassy hillside. No pre-ordering required.

Regimental Shop

Located on the ground floor of the Cavalier Building, the Regimental Shop provides a unique shopping experience for visitors.


Free Wi-Fi for all site visitors! Inquire at the ticket kiosks or Information Centre for details.

Accessibility services


Wheelchairs and walkers are available in the Visitor Information Centre. The grounds, main floor of the Cavalier Building, the Army Museum, most of the exhibits and the washrooms are all wheelchair accessible. 


There is a self-service elevator in Map Location 25 (see map) that gives wheelchair access to the upper level of the walls.

The Army Museum can be accessed with Information Centre staff assistance by the lift located next to the Information Centre. 

Open captioning

A Harbour Worth Defending (Film) has open captioning. 

Service animals

Pets on a leash are permitted on the grounds; identified service animals are permitted inside the buildings. We ask pet owners to pick up after their pets and not leave them unattended.

For your safety

The Halifax Citadel is a 19th-century fortification with steep masonry walls surrounded by a ditch up to 9 metres (40 feet) deep.

To have a safe visit, please observe the following:

  • Please use North and South viewing platforms to enjoy the site’s most impressive views.
  • The top of all earthen walls, stone inner walls, and gun openings are “do not enter” spaces based on the high level of falling risk they present, especially when wet.
  • Watch out for low doorways, steep stairways, water gutters, and uneven ground and floors.
  • Site requires all young children to be under close adult supervision at all times.

More safety information

Facility rentals

The Halifax Citadel offers a unique setting for meetings, weddings, dinners, and receptions for groups large and small. We offer on-site catering and can add colour to your event with private tours, bagpipers and cannon firings. 

Indoor events: 902-426-7665 or 

Outdoor events: 902-426-5080 or

Who we are

Parks Canada manages one of the largest national park systems in the world. This system includes national parks, historic sites, heritage canals and marine conservation areas. Parks Canada strives to present these resources in a manner that fosters understanding of their value to all Canadians while protecting them for future generations.

Contact us

Halifax Defence Complex, PO Box 9080, Station A, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 5M7

Tel: 902-426-5080


Our partners

The Army Museum

The Army Museum first opened at the Halifax Citadel in 1953. A non-profit institution, it was created to preserve the memory of Atlantic Canada’s soldiers.


The Halifax Citadel Society (HCS)

The Halifax Citadel Society or HCS is a charitable, non-profit organization created in 1993 whose purpose is to raise awareness and understanding of the rich history associated with the Halifax Citadel and its related sites. On behalf of Parks Canada, the Society administers the living history, fee collection and visitor orientation programs at the Citadel. 

To learn more about other programs run by the HCS, visit:


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