The Saint George’s Castle which is popularly known as Elmina Castle was constructed in 1482 by the Portuguese. It is situated along the coastal belt of Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana, the castle is on record as the oldest castle in Ghana and the whole of Africa. The Elmina Castle is also part of the World Heritage Monument under UNESCO. The word “Elmina” was driven from a Portuguese word “A mina” meaning a gold mine, due to the accent of the Gold Coast people, specially the Fante people, they pronounced it as Elmina.

Sea View of the Elmina Castle

The Elmina Castle was a major trading center during the pre-colonial era. Activities such as Gold trading and other major Sub-Saharan economic activities but later became a hub for the slave trade in West Africa. It was captured from the Portuguese in 1637 by the Dutch. Elmina Castle was established before Cape Coast Castle around a fishing village port.

The Portuguese also constructed Fort Coenraadsburg on top of the hill just 500 meters away as extra protection and barracks for the soldiers. Before the slave trade era, the town of Elmina was a hub of commercial and social activity centering around a fort that had been built by the Portuguese.

Fort Coenraadsburg

As the need for slaves was becoming more apparent, the castle was built in anticipation of the pending mass trafficking of the Black cargo. Even though the Portuguese may have been the ones who entered the slave enterprise on a mass scale, the British took over the castle from the Dutch and in addition built the Cape Coast Castle.

In the middle courtyard, there is a church that is rare and cannot be found in any of the other slave forts in Ghana. The Church place is now being used as a Mausoleum to house the history and some artefacts like hand shackles. The dungeons could hold about 1500 slaves. The dungeons/rooms are small and it’s difficult and dehumanizing to imagine how 1500 people/slaves would be kept there.

Ghana is blessed with a lot of amazing monuments and places filled with great history, and one of them is obviously the Elmina Castle.

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