THE SLAVE DUNGEONS & FORTS
The forts and castles along the coast of Ghana date back to the 15th Century and were built and occupied at different times by the European traders and adventurers from Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Germany and Britain to safeguard trading posts. Several of them have changed hands on numerous occasions in bloody battles or by treaty, and all have a fascinating history.
All over Ghana, vestiges of the past remain for the visitor to discover.
Today some have been restored and have a variety of uses while some are in ruins. Most are however open to the public.
All these Castles and forts offer concrete testimony to the drama of human history and stand as witness to one of the world's most tragic events - the Slave Trade.
Cape Coast Castle has seen the passage of numerous foreign powers. Initially constructed as a small trading lodge in the 16th century, the building was subsequently altered and enlarged becoming a substantial fort by 1627. It was later captured by the Swedes and named Fort Carlsberg, finally becoming a British possession in 1664. Cape Coast Castle, through which millions of slaves were shipped to the Caribbean and the United States, became the seat of British colonial administration until 1877 when government offices moved to Christiansburg Castle in Accra.
Ten kilometers west on a promontory visible from a great distance, Elmina Castle is the earliest known European structure in the tropics, built in 1482 by the Portugauese during early world exploration, the castle was taken over by the Dutch in 1637, who retained control for 274 years. Inside the vast fortification is the location of the first Catholic Church in Sub-Sahara Africa. The Castle's damp, unlit dungeons served as horrific holding areas for the human cargo of the infamous slave trade.
Fort St. Jago is within walking distance. It is from this vantage point that the Dutch launched their successful land attack on Elmina Castle. Unlike other forts in the area, Fort St. Jago was not used for trading activities. Its primary purpose was to provide military protection to Elmina Castle. Be sure to bring your camera. The hill on which Ft. St. Jago stands provides an excellent view of Elmina Castle, the Atlantic Ocean, and the buzz of commercial activity at the Elmina fishing harbor.