Fortresses and Castles of the Colonial Era in Ghana (World Heritage)

Fortresses and Castles of the Colonial Era in Ghana (World Heritage)

The world heritage includes fortified trading posts that have been built by Europeans along the Ghanaian coast since the 15th century and have been expanded into castles and governor’s seats over time. They document the beginnings of colonial history in Africa and the importance of trade relations. One of the most important facilities is the Saint George Castle.

Fortresses and Castles of Colonial Ghana: Facts

Official title: Fortresses and castles from the colonial era at the mouth of the Volta, in Accra, the central and western regions
Cultural monument: Forts and castles along a 500 km long coastal strip of Ghana, including Fort Apollonia, which is used as a hotel, Fort São Antonio, which is partly used by the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, the ruins of Fort Sophie Louise and Fort Batenstein, Fort Orange, which is used as a lighthouse, and Cape Coast Castle, which is used as a West African History Museum
Continent: Africa
Country: Ghana
Location: from Keta to Beyin
Appointment: 1979
Meaning: Evidence of the trade routes established by the Portuguese from the time of the discoveries

Fortresses and Castles of the Colonial Era in Ghana: History Stäng table

1471 Landing of Portuguese sailors
1482 São João da Mina Fortress (St. George’s Castle, Elmina)
1505 Beginning of the slave trade
1515 Fort Sao Antonio
1662 English Cape Coast Castle, Cape Coast
1661 Christianborg (Osu Castle), Accra
1684 Brandenburg Fort Sophie Louise, Three Point
1688 Dutch Fort Orange, Sekondi
1721 English Fort Victoria, Cape Coast
1764 English Fort Metal Cross, Dixcove
1768 English fort Apollonia, Beyin
1807 End of the slave trade, through which 2 million African slaves were abducted
1829 English Fort Williams, Cape Coast
1850 Gold Coast as a British colony and expropriation of Dutch possessions
1874 Gold Coast becomes a crown colony
1954-56 Restoration of Fort São Antonio, Axim
1957 Independence of Ghana

Bright white contemporary witnesses on the Gold Coast

In search of wealth and power, the Portuguese landed with their fast sailing ships, the Caravellas, as the first European nation on the coast of the legendary gold country, today’s Ghana. The seafarers called the coastline on which Captain Diego Cão moored »Elmina«, derived from the Portuguese word »mina«, which means »gold mine«. The deposits of gold and ivory meant that ten years before Columbus discovered America, the Portuguese were the first colonial power to have the São João da Mina, today’s Elmina Castle, built to store their treasures. They were later followed by Dutch, English, Prussians from Brandenburg, Danes, Swedes and French to the Gold Coast. Castles, fortresses and forts were built at strategically important points, in order to be able to successfully defend the regional monopoly position against lurking competitors even with military force. The Portuguese governors resided in Elmina until the conquest by the Dutch in the early 17th century. Columbus is said to have made a stopover here on his second trip to America. Visit for Africa geology.

The demand for cheap labor for the New World made the emerging slave trade a very profitable business for European merchants. While the first castles were only trading posts and transhipment points for all kinds of goods, the later fortresses were mainly used to house the slaves in the following period. After the ban on the slave trade, most traders and military personnel quickly abandoned their fortresses. Almost 200 years later, the mighty fortresses on the coast of Ghana continue to watch as silent witnesses and remind with their rusty cannons of the bloody history of the exploitation of the African continent. Most of the originally more than 50 fortified structures along the coast of Ghana have now largely fallen into disrepair. For example, almost a third is used as a prison, Hotel or lighthouse used again. The representative Christiansborg Palace is even the official seat of the state government.

The former slave fortress of São João da Mina still towers over the neighboring lively fishing port and shapes the cityscape with its bright white whitewashed walls. The complex is not only one of the first European fortresses in Africa, but also one of the largest and most spectacular. On the way through the spacious inner courtyard, you pass dungeons and death row more casually. Wide arches, shady galleries and railings stretch out to the right. From the top ramparts, your gaze glides over salt-eaten cannons to the roaring surf of the Atlantic. The front of the square is dominated by wide stairs that lead up to the representative rooms in the shape of an arrow. When looking at the commandant’s apartments, one can only guess the pomp in which the gentlemen of yore must have lived.

When entering the dark dungeons in the basement, cold showers still run down the back of the visitor. Men, women and children, separated by sex, were chained in dark and smelly dungeons. Hundreds of slaves, malnourished and plagued by disease, waited to be abducted to the New World. It seems as if the blood of many generations was clinging to the pavement stones that lead from the massive vaulted cellar through the “Gate of No Return” to the beach.

A memorial plaque is also a permanent reminder: »In the eternal memory of the suffering of our ancestors. May those who died rest in peace, May those who return find their roots. May humanity never again carry out such injustice against human beings. We, the living, swear to keep this up. ”

Fortresses and Castles of the Colonial Era in Ghana (World Heritage)

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