Castles and Forts

The castles and forts of Ghana constitute treasures par excellence, a legacy of the historic past as much to modern Ghana and Africa as to the world at large. Though built on African soil, their authors came from Europe - Portuguese, Dutch, French, Britons, Brandenburg-Prussians, Danes and Swedes. For several centuries, European masters and native African servants lived and worked in them. The warehouses teemed with gold and ivory export products as well as African slaves destined for auction in the New World, there to become ancestors to future generations of black populations. Indeed, these historic buildings were no respectors of persons and extraordinary history was made once when one castle, Elmina, held prisoner an Asante King in all his splendour during the first stage of his forced exile from Ghana. Hence, not only modern Ghanaians, but also many millions in countries of the Western hemisphere and elsewhere constitute stake-holders with an interest in ensuring the preservation of these historic castles and forts.

Recognizing their unique place in world history, the World Heritage Convention of UNESCO has designated Ghana"s castles and forts as World Heritage Monuments.

--Castles & Forts of Ghana,
Kwesi J. Anquandah,
Ghana Museums & Monuments Board, 1999

Elmina Castle photo available map available

The Portuguese founded Castle "Sao Jorge da Mina" in 1482 to protect the gold-rich lands discovered in 1471. The castle was completed according to its original plan in 1486 and the town was raised to the status of a "city".

Fort William - Anomabu photo available map available

Anomabu became the focus of intense European trade rivalry in the 17th and 18th centuries, partly because of its easy access to a rich hinterland and partly because the local Anomabu were themselves powerful and astute traders.

Christiansborg Castle - Accra photo available map available

Christiansborg Castle is unique among the castles and forts as it served as Government House during various periods in the 19th and 20th centuries and continues to play that role today.

Fort Amsterdam (Cormantin) - Abandze photo available map available

History has it that, in 1631, a renegade employee of the Dutch West Indian Company called Arent Groote, acting on behalf of the English Company of Adventurers Trading to Guynney and Binney, signed an agreement with the Chief of Cormantin by which a hill site near the village was ceded to the English company.

Fort Good Hope - Senya Beraku photo available map available

Thanks to their establishment of a lodge at Senya Beraku in 1667, the Dutch entered into a long-standing relationship with the Agona State. Its chief subsequently requested the Dutch to build a permanent fort at Beraku.

Fort Patience - Apam photo available map available

In the late 17th century, the small state of Acron - sandwiched between the larger British allies of Agona and Fante sought to have a strong fort built on its territory to defend it in case of attack. The Dutch, while willing to erect a fort at Apam, were in no position to build a large one. Building of the fort commenced in 1697 on the summit of a promontory close to a sheltered beach and bay.

Fort St. Jago (Coenraadsburg) - Elmina photo available map available

In 1503, according to historical narration by the Portuguese Diego de Alvarenga, a Portuguese missionary converted and baptized the paramount chief of the Efutu Kingdom on the Mina coast together with 300 of his subjects. The chief permitted the Portuguese to build a church on the hill located opposite the Castle St. Jorge. The site was dedicated to the Portuguese saint, Jago.

Fort Apollonia - Beyin photo available map available

The English Committee of Merchants, in response to an invitation from the Nzema Chief Amenihyia, built the last English fort above the beach at Beyin. The English employed slave labour and quarried limestone rock from a nearby site to build the fort in 1768-70.

Fort Batenstein - Butre photo available map available

Butre village is located in a sheltered bay amidst the forests of Ahantaland, east of Cape Three Points. Like Dixcove and Friedricksburg, it was among the early historic settlements generated by the 17th century inter-European and inter-African conflicts, partly because it lay close to the gold-rich hinterland.

Fort Metal Cross - Dixcove photo available map available

In the 1680's, the Ahantaland around Infuma settlement was a bone of contention between the English and the Brandenburgers. The English were determined to acquire land there to build a fort because many English interloper captains were accustomed to trading at Fort Gross Friedrichsburg to the detriment of English commerce.

Fort Orange - Sekondi photo available map available

The foundation of the earliest-known Dutch lodge harks back to the 1670's. The precise date is uncertain. However, by 1704, the lodge had become a small fort called "Oranje".

Fort St. Anthonio - Axim photo available map available

Following the establishment of their headquarters at Elmina, the Portuguese, in an effort to maintain their monopoly and exclude foreign ships from the gold markets, built a trade post in 1503 at Axim close to the mouth of the River Ankobra.

Fort St. Sebastian - Shama photo available map available

Fort St. Sebastian was originally constructed and named by the Portuguese c.1520-26. However, its first appearance on a map was in the context of Di Castaldi's Venetian map of 1564

Friederichsburg at Princess town  map available

Located on Manfro Hill 5km east of Fort St. Antonio, this fort was built by the Brandeburgers in 1683. It was taken over by an...

Cape Coast Castle photo available map available

The strategic location of Cape Coast having a sheltered beach in proximity to Elmina Castle made it a great attraction to the European nations.