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Ghana, West Africa

Castles and forts
Ghana boasts of a legacy of 32 stone and concrete structures, 26 of them in the central region. Most, built over 400 years ago as trading posts, were used as slave dungeons during the infamous slave trade. Many have been restored and three, at Elmina, St. Jago and Cape Coast, have been identified as world heritage Monuments.

A total of 14 forts, or their partial ruins, dot the coastline between Accra and Cape Coast. Fort Good Hope at Senya Beraku is four sided and lies on a promontory overlooking a cove with a good landing beach. At Apam is Fort Patience, currently a rest house where visitors can stay.

Three other forts are located at Tantum (Winnebah), at Saltpond near Ankaful, and at Kormantse (Fort Amsterdam). The British garrison at Tuntam is in disrepair, as is the French post at Salt pond. The Dutch Fort Amsterdam is the best maintained. Fort William at Anomabu is closed to visitors since it is still in use as a prison.

Fort St. Sebastian at Shama is a prime example of both Portuguese and Dutch influences. Fort Orange at Sekondi today houses a lighthouse. From Busua Beach near Dixcove one can reach the romantic ruins of Fort Batenstein by horseback. Fort Metal Cross is near Dixcove. Fort Gross-Fredericksburg in Princess town was one of the most luxurious forts on the entire coast. The fort has become popular with budget-minded backpackers and trekkers who frequently stay there for a nominal fee.


Historical and Cultural Sites
The Senegambian "Stone circles" near Wassau were hewn and erected about 1,200 years ago, these weathered, iron bearing laterite (red clay) obelisks are scattered in rings of up to 20 stones over about 40 sites extending into Senegal and Guinea.

Genuine ruins to intrigue the historian are the remains of 200-year-old Fort Bullen, at Barra, and the old British trading post on James Island.

Those driving the north bank route can also visit the sacred pools at and near Berending, a short distance from Banjul.
Wrestlers, and pilgrims in search of healing "bathe" in the damp mud not a particularly appealing option.


Castles and forts
Ghana boasts of a legacy of 32 stone and concrete structures, 26 of them in the central region. Most, built over 400 years ago as trading posts, were used as slave dungeons during the infamous slave trade. Many have been restored and three, at Elmina, St. Jago and Cape Coast, have been identified as world heritage Monuments.

The Portuguese discovered the maritime routes to the Gulf of Guinea in the fifteenth century, and they began setting up trading posts. Rumours of the vast wealth of the region filtered back to Europe and soon other nations established themselves on the coast, building sturdy fortresses to protect their interests in the trade of gold, Ivory and, later, slaves. By the end of the eighteenth century, thirty-seven such forts dotted the coastline, eight of which have since been completely destroyed. After independence several forts started taking in travelers - it's now possible to sleep at the rest houses in at least four of them.

Along the coast from east to west, the major forts or their ruins include:


Prampram:
Fort Vernon was built in 1756 by the French and taken by the British in 1806.


Accra:
Christiansborg was built by the Danish in 1659. Earlier a Swedish fortress, which at one time had probably belonged to the Portuguese, stood on the same spot.
Usher Fort was built by the Dutch in 1642. Ten years later it was taken by the French and named "Fort Crevecoeur", then passed through the hands of the Dutch and finally the British who rebuilt it in 1868.
James Fort was built by the Portuguese in the mid-sixteenth century, taken by the English, and rebuilt in 1673.


Senya:
Beraku The last fort built by the Dutch, Fort Good Hope was erected in 1702 and extended in 1715. It is four sided and lies on a promontory overlooking a cove with a good landing beach.


Apam:
Fort Leydsaemheyt was built in 1698 by the Dutch. Occupied by the British (who named it Fort Patience) in 1782 and retaken by the Dutch three years later, it was abandoned around 1800. Currently a rest house where visitors can stay.


Anomabu:
A Dutch was founded here in the seventeenth century and taken by the British in 1665. Fort Charles was built on its site on 1674, expanded in the 1730s and renamed Fort William. It is closed to visitors since it is still in use as a prison.


Mouri (Moree):
Fort Nassau was built by the Dutch in 1598. It went back and forth between the British and Dutch until it was finally abandoned in 1815. It is now in ruins.


Cape Coast:
The original castle was founded by the Swedish then taken by the Danes and passed to the hands of the Dutch before finally being taken by the English in 1662. After the French bombardment in 1757, it was entirely reconstructed in 1760 when it lost its original design.


Elmina:
Saint George's castle, the oldest European monument in sub-Saharan Africa, was built by the Portuguese in 1482 with dressed stones brought from Europe. The original castle was expanded by the Dutch in1637. Fort Sao lago (RH), which faces it, dates from the seventeenth century and was taken by the Dutch in 1683.


Komenda:
Fort Vredenburg was built by the Dutch in 1688, taken by the English in 1782 and abandoned three years later. Fort English in the same town, was founded by the English in 1663. Both forts are now in ruins.


Shama:
Fort Sebastian was founded by the Portuguese around 1560 and occupied by the Dutch in 1640. It is a prime example of both Portuguese and Dutch influences.


Sekondi:
: Fort Orange was built by the Dutch in 1640. It is a prime example of both Portuguese and Dutch influences. It became British after 1872.


Dixcove:
Fort Metal Cross was built by the English in 1691, and occupied by the Dutch from 1868 to 1872. From Busua Beach one can reach the romantic ruins of Fort Batenstein by horseback.


Princes town:
Grossfriedrichsburg was built in 1683 by the German Brandenburgers and taken by the Dutch and later British. The fort was one of the most luxurious forts on the entire coast. It has become popular with budget-minded backpackers and trekkers who frequently stay there for a nominal fee. In ruins at independence, the fort has since been restored.


Axim:
Fort Santa Antonia ( Fort St Anthony), built in the fifteenth century, was the second Portuguese fort on the coast. Taken by the Dutch in 1642 it was rebuilt in several occations.


Beyin:
Fort Apollonia was built by the English Comitee of Merchants in 1756.


Tuntam:
Here is the British garrison Fort.


Kormantse:
The Dutch Fort Amsterdam, is the best maintained.

Copyright 2001-, Terry Muse
Revised: February 6, 2002
URL: http://black_and_hispanic.tripod.com/blackhistory/
Contact: Terry Muse


Maps courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission.