Elimina Castle

St George’s Castle, a Unesco heritage site, was built as a trading post by the Portuguese in 1482 and captured by the Dutch in 1637. It was expanded when slaves replaced gold as the major object of commerce, with storerooms converted into dungeons. The information tour (included in the entry fee) takes you to the grim dungeons, punishment cells, Door of No Return, and the turret room where the British imprisoned the Ashanti king, Prempeh I, for four years.

Elimina Castle was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, so it is the oldest European building in existence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Elimina is also a picturesque fishing town along with Ghana’s coast, not far from Cape Coast. It is home to one of Ghana’s biggest attractions, St George’s Castle. Built by the Portuguese in 1482, it was captured by the Dutch 150 years later and became the headquarters of their West Indies Company for the following 250 years.

Gold exports were soon replaced by slaves and the tours through the dungeons will give you a good idea of how gruesome a trade it was. The Castle houses a small museum and guided tours are available. The stark beauty of the white-washed Castle walls contrasts deeply with the dark history of this place.

Fort St Jago lies across the lagoon from the castle and is worth visiting for the views it offers of the town and castle.

HISTORY

Renowned as the first major European construction in tropical Africa, St Georges Castle, in the town of Elimina tropical Africa, St George’s Castle, in the town of Elmina in the Central Region of Ghana, was founded by the Portuguese navigators, as it was advantageously located at the end of a narrow promontory, a stone’s throw away from both the Atlantic Ocean and the Benya River. The lee of the low headland provided an excellent natural harbor.

 

St George’s Castle or ‘Sao Jorge da Mina’, after the patron saint of Portugal, as the castle was known to the Portuguese, afforded the Portuguese a trade monopoly in the area, with unrivalled access to the region’s gold.

 

 

 

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