Ghana’s Elmina Castle: All You Need To Know Before You Go

Castles in Ghana carry with them a long history passed down to generations over the past centuries. These historic sites in Africa and in Ghana to be specific housed within them, memories and stories of the older generation that came before the present ones. Among these castles is the Portuguese CASTELO MINA, one of the historical heritage sites in Ghana which is acknowledged by UNESCO. Today, it is known as Elmina Castle, from which the town Elmina takes its name from.

The Castle was built in 1482 by the Portuguese mainly to aid trading, however, following the advent of slave trade, the Castle basically became the major area for the Atlantic Slave trade.

Students at the Castle


The King of Edina, Nana Kwame Ansah, and the Portuguese Captain Diego d’Azambuja negotiated the construction of a fortress in Edina in 1482. They constructed a medieval-era walled fortification. The fortress was transformed into a castle by the Portuguese, who called it St. George Castle. Due to the gold that lies beneath the soil in the area, the Portuguese elevated the village of Edina to a city status in 1486 and gave it the name Al Mina, which translates as “The Mine”. However, some historians contend that the Arabs gave the name El Mina which means “harbor” to the city.

A tourist drumming at the Castle Culture hub
Drumming practice by Tourist |

From the onset, the Portuguese refrained from engaging directly in slave trade via the Castle.

This was to avoid any disruption in the mining of gold and its trading within the Gold Coast.  However, slaves were directly shipped from other countries, notably, Benin and Sao Tome with the Castle becoming a transshipment, where slaves were exported to Europe and goods imported to the Coast. As part of the Groot Desseyn plan, and after a failed attempt in 1625, the Castle was seized by the Dutch in 1637 under the commandership of Colonel Hans Coine. During the Dutch’s rule, Elmina reached the peak of its prosperity, through trade in gold and later slaves.

Attire wore by slaves

The Elmina Castle is one of its kind since it is notably the oldest European building in existence in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Castle had a Governors chamber where all official duties are carried out in, a church, and facing from all four main cardinals, gun defenses to protect the castle. Within the castle were Holding Cells where Slaves were kept for some time before they are exported via the “Gate of No return”, an area with it’s interior to be pitch dark that one could hardly see the next person, notwithstanding slaves who were seen as threat or goes contrary to the Governors directions were kept in the dungeon where they are faced with harsh condition. The room was less spacious that they could barely move around looking at the number of people kept in each dungeon.

Shackles worn by slaves

The Castle fronts the southern sea, where one could have a birds eye view of the terrain from the governors chamber. Visit Elmina castle today with Brothers From GHANA and appreciate Ghana’s history

Would you like to join our Ghana City Tours (sightseeing, Art & Culture, Food and  History)? Kindly contact XPLORE WITH BROTHERS (XWB) thus;

Call/WhatsApp: +233242854297 (Ghana Office)

Email: [email protected]

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