If you are an explorer who loves visiting new places, then the forts and castles in Ghana should be on your bucket list of locations you must visit. The castles boast of a rich history, which unfortunately will remind you of the dark days of slavery but the experience in general will be fulfiling. For instance, you will enjoy fantastic views and sights of the castles, which are located along the coastal line of Ghana. Here are the details of the castles that you need to read about.
There are many forts and castles in Ghana that give the country its deep history.
The history of castles in Ghana dates back to between the 15th and 19th century when the castles were built along the coastal line of Ghana by different European powers. This was the beginning of the slave trade and these castles acted as holding cells for slaves. When slave ships arrived, they were then transported across the Atlantic ocean.
Based on the mentioned role, some castles in Ghana were referred to as the slave castles. The different pictures of slave castles in Ghana can give you an idea of how the castles look like now.
Check the names of castles in Ghana, their history and locations, and reasons why you should visit them.
When the Europeans landed at the coastal line of Ghana, the location of the Elmina Castle was where they first interacted with inhabitants of the area.
The Portuguese found a lot of ivory and gold in this area and referred to it as "Mina de Ouro".
In other instances, the Elmina Castle is also referred to as Fort St. Jorge or the St. George’s Castle.
The location of this castle is a historical site, and in the recent times, it was the filming location for a drama film called Cobra Verde.
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Cape Coast Castle
The initial idea for building this castle was for trading in timber and gold. Later, the Cape Coast Castle was one of the popular castles during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
For now, it is open to the public to visit on any day of the week.
If you visit this castle, you should look forward to checking out attractions like the Dalzel Tower, the cannons and mortars that were used to defend the castle, and the slave dungeons.
You will still not fall short of things to do since the West African Museum is located inside this historic castle. The museum is a host to an astounding collection of art and cultural items such as:
- Shackles from the slave trade
- Ceremonial drums
- Ancient pottery
- Old muskets
On his first visit to the African continent, the former president of the United States Barack Obama visited this castle.
Fort St. Jago
Fort St. Jago is also known as Fort Conraadsburg.
The purpose for building this castle explains why it is only a walking distance away from the Elmina Castle. It was built to act as a shield and offer protection to the Elmina Castle. Also, the Europeans used it as a location to discipline its malcontents and convicts.
While at this castle, you will not miss the breathtaking views of the Elmina Castle as well as the Elmina town.
The other name for this castle is Fort Christiansborg. To start with, the government of Ghana operated from this castle for a long time but not anymore. Further, if you visit this castle and see a bird sanctuary that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, that is where the late John Atta Mills was buried.
Here are some of the well-known world leaders that have visited the castle:
- Richard Nixon
- Queen Elizabeth II
- Bill Clinton
- Barack Obama
Fort William & Fort Victoria
Located on the top of hills, these two forts provide amazing views of the surrounding towns of Cape Coast.
If you can't get enough of great views, then you should visit these twin castles. Since they are located at the top of hills in Cape Coast, you will enjoy the views of the surrounding areas.
Initially, Fort William was a lighthouse but now the staff members of the Ghana Museums & Monuments Board stay here. At the same time, it is home to the employees of the Cape Coast Castle.
Besides the current roles of Fort William & Fort Victoria, visitors can still go to check them out.
It is important to learn about the castles in Ghana and their builders to know that this castle is different from the one located in Cape Coast. This one is located in Anomabu.
The French attempted to establish a fort in the same location but the British successfully prevented them and proceeded to build this fort in 1753. Before the building of this fort, two other forts had already existed in the same area. One was by the Dutch, and the other by the English. restored in 1954.
In 1954, Fort William was restored and now has a fishing beach, a welcoming beach resort, many sacred shrines, and an ancient village.
Fort St. Sebastian
When you talk about the history of forts in Ghana, Fort St Sebastian has to come up somewhere in that discussion. That is so because it is on the top three list of the oldest forts in Ghana.
The history of this fort dates back to 1520 when the Portuguese started building it as a trading post. It took six years to complete but the Dutch came in 1642 and captured it.
When building it, the Portuguese also intended to use Fort St. Sebastian as a deterrent to the English sailors that were interfering in the trading activities at Shama. Later, during the slave trade period, the castle acted as a prison for enslaved Africans who were awaiting transportation to America.
It is easy to access Fort St Sebastian from the coastal road and the fort boasts of a unique and well-maintained structure.
The location of the Fort Prinsenstein is very interesting. It is in the east of the Volta River, and more specifically, between Keta lagoon and the Atlantic ocean.
Danish traders built this fort in 1784 for trading slaves and to defend themselves from invaders.
People who like interacting with the locals prefer visiting this fort because it has few visitors.
The Keta Lagoon that is located nearby provides a good platform for bird watching.
Fort Gross Freidrichsburg
Fort Gross Freidrichsburg is the only German fort in Ghana and is located in Prince's Town.
The Brandenburg Africa Company stepped in to formally build this fort in 1682, transforming it from a Danish lodge that it had been since 1658.
John Connie occupied the fort from 1716 to 1725 when the Dutch finally captured it and renamed it Fort Hollandia. After almost 150 years under their possession, the Dutch finally ceded it to the English.
Fort Metal Cross
On arriving at Busua beach, you'll only need 20 minutes to walk to the Fort Metal Cross. The original name of this fort was Fort Dixcove.
It took the English 6 years to build this fort, starting in 1691.
The Dutch later re-named it from Fort Dixcove to Fort Metalen Kruiz, a name that translates to Fort Metal Cross.
Fort Apollonia had to feature on this list and is located in Beyin. If you check the map, you'll note this is the Westernmost fort in Ghana.
The origin of this name is accredited to a Portuguese explorer who sighted the place on the Feast of Saint Apollonia.
Planning to visit this fort is easy due to its ease of access. For instance, you can plan for an excursion to this fort and the nearby village and areas. In addition, the beautiful Beyin beach offers a great location as one enjoys the relaxing sounds of the ocean waves.
Fort San Antonio
The Portuguese were responsible for the building of Fort San Antonio. The construction took place in 1515 near a town named Axim, which is in present day Ghana.
This fort takes the second spot on the list of forts built by the Portuguese in Ghana.
A visit to this fort will surely create a wonderful experience that will start with a 6-hour drive to Axim in the West from Accra. The site is on one of Ghana's most beautiful beaches with nearby forests, great resorts, and nice locations for excursions to the stilt village of Nzulezu.
The above list of castles in Ghana highlights their history although part of that history dates back to the slavery period. Also, the question of "How many slave castles in Ghana?" may have crossed your mind. The castles and forts were many but because of wear and tear, there are about 25 of them remaining. By visiting the castles and forts, you can learn about the useful history of Ghana and the African continent in general. UNESCO has identified the highlighted castles and forts as World Heritage sites, which is another reason why you should visit them.
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