One of the most-asked questions about castles in Ghana is “What is the most famous castle in Ghana?’. Honestly, the question is simple and it is just tricky if you don’t Know Ghana so well. Some say it is the Osu Castle. Well as a traveler and a travel writer, I arguably say the Cape Coast Castle is the most famous castle in Ghana. And today, we are going to talk about it.
Cape Coast Castle is a striking piece of history located in Ghana, West Africa. Built-in the 17th century by European traders, the castle served as a key hub for the transatlantic slave trade for over 200 years. Today, Cape Coast Castle stands as a stark reminder of the brutalities and atrocities committed during the slave trade era.
With its dark dungeons, haunting history, and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, the castle has become a significant tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world.
In this article, Mrpocu.com will explore the fascinating history of Cape Coast Castle, including its role in the slave trade, its significance to Ghanaian culture, and its current status as a UNESCO World Heritage site. We will also delve into the experience of visiting the castle and the impact it has on those who walk through its walls.
About Cape Coast
Cape Coast is one of the largest cities in Ghana and also the capital of the Central Region. The city is mainly for the Fanti people and a fishing port. Cape Coast is the first place the Portuguese settled on for local settlement within which its trade lodge was built in 1555. The Swedes, led by Krusenstjerna were the initiators into the permanent structure presently known as Cape Coast Castle. The city is known for its rich cultural heritage and historical significance as a major hub of the transatlantic slave trade. The city is home to several important landmarks you can think of.
In addition to its historical importance, Cape Coast is renowned for its stunning beaches, bustling markets, and dynamic culture. The annual Fetu Afahye celebration, which honors the ancestors of the Fante people, one of the main ethnic groups in the region, and celebrates the town’s harvest, is one of many festivals that take place in the city throughout the year. Locals dress in vibrant costumes during the celebration, dance to traditional music, and present food and drink to the gods.
With numerous local parks and reserves providing chances for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing, Cape Coast is also a well-liked ecotourism destination. A lush rainforest canopy walkway at the Kakum National Park, not far from the city, provides stunning views of the park’s flora and fauna.
Cape Coast is a center of academic activity in the area thanks to its many institutions and colleges as well as its cultural and natural features. One of Ghana’s biggest and most esteemed universities, the University of Cape Coast enrolls students from all across the nation and beyond.
What Is Cape Coast Castle Famous For?
Cape Coast Castle is a historical monument located in Cape Coast, Ghana. It is known for its dark history as a major hub for the transatlantic slave trade in West Africa during the 18th and 19th centuries. The castle, which was originally built by the Swedes in the 17th century, changed hands several times before becoming a British colonial possession in 1664.
Cape Coast Castle was used as a holding facility for enslaved Africans who were awaiting transport across the Atlantic to the Americas and the Caribbean. It is estimated that over 30,000 Africans were held captive at the castle during this period. Many of them died from disease, starvation, or brutal treatment by their captors before they could be shipped off to the New World.
Today, Cape Coast Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination. Visitors can take guided tours of the castle to learn about its history and view the dungeons where enslaved Africans were held. The castle also houses a museum that displays artifacts related to the slave trade and Ghana’s colonial past.
History Of Cape Coast Castle
Hendrik Caerloff constructed the initial fort for the Swedish Africa Company on the location of Cape Coast Castle. Before working for the latter business founded by Louis de Geer, Caerloff was a previous employee of the Dutch West India Company, where he had attained the rank of fiscal.
As a former senior Dutch commander, Caerloff had favorable relationships with the local chiefs required to set up a trading post. Caerloff was successful in obtaining the king of Fetu’s approval in 1650 to build a fort at Cabo Corso, which is Portuguese for “short cape” and was later corrupted to English as Cape Coast. In 1653, the first log cabin was built there and given the name Carolusborg in honor of King Charles X of Sweden.
In 1655, Karloff left Carolusborg in the care of Johann Philipp von Krusenstjerna before departing for Europe. However, Louis de Geer had passed away in the meanwhile, and Caerloff became embroiled in a heated argument with his heirs. He traveled to the Gold Coast in 1657 after persuading traders in Amsterdam to fund the Danish West India Company with the intention of capturing for Denmark the Swedish lodges and forts he had built himself.
Caerloff was able to expel the Swedes with the aid of the Dutch, departing the Gold Coast on the seized Stockholms Slott with Von Krusenstjerna aboard as a prisoner.
Samuel Smit, a former employee of the Dutch West India Company who was also in command of Carolusborg, had been left in control by Karloff. Smit rejoined the Dutch West India Company and gave all of Denmark’s assets to the Dutch after the Dutch were successful in persuading him that Sweden had actually conquered Denmark in 1659.
But the King of Fetu objected to this and stopped the Dutch from seizing control of the fort. After a year, the King made the decision to sell it to the Swedes. The Dutch were finally able to take control of the fort after the King’s death in 1663.
Just a few hundred meters to the east of Carolusborg, the Danes had built Fort Frederiksborg (1661) in the interim. The English captured Carolusborg (1664), kicking off the Second Anglo-Dutch War, and prevented the Danes from challenging them. The English had fortified the fort, which they called Cape Coast Castle, to such a degree that even Dutch Admiral Michiel de Ruyter thought it impossible to conquer.
Cape Coast was chosen as the new capital of the English possessions on the Gold Coast when the Dutch took control of the prior English headquarters at Kormantin and reconstructed it as Fort Amsterdam.
Although he wouldn’t be the last pirate to be hanged at the fort, Duncan Mackintosh and a few members of his crew were executed at the Castle in 1689. 54 members of the pirate Bartholomew Roberts’ crew were sentenced to death at the fort in 1722; 52 of them were hanged, while two were granted reprieves.
A French naval force nearly seized Cape Coast Castle and severely damaged it in 1757, during the Seven Years’ War. The Castle, which was well-known for its falling walls and leaking roofs, was completely rebuilt as a result of this incident, which was perhaps one of the most significant factors. The last traces of the 17th-century fort were destroyed with the construction of a lofty building along the north curtain in 1773 and a lengthy extension ending in a tower on the western side in 1762. Two new bastions with a sea entrance in the center took the place of Greenhill Point, a bastion to the east of the castle.
The primary defensive structure to the south was replaced by two new bastions known as Grassle’s Bastions. The governors’ rooms were added to the tower in the 1790s after it had lost its military function. The new slave dungeons were located below Grassle’s Bastions.
Despite its role in the slave trade, Cape Coast Castle was also an important center of European trade and diplomacy in West Africa. British governors and other officials were based at the castle, and it was a hub for trade in gold, ivory, and other goods. The castle was also the site of several important treaties between European powers and African leaders, including the Treaty of Cape Coast in 1664, which formalized British control of the castle and its surrounding territories.
In the early 19th century, the British abolished the slave trade and began to shift their focus towards colonialism and trade in other commodities. Cape Coast Castle continued to be an important center of British power in West Africa, and it was the capital of the British Gold Coast colony from 1877 until 1947. During this period, the castle was extensively renovated and expanded, and it became a symbol of British colonial power and prestige.
After Ghana gained independence in 1957, Cape Coast Castle was turned over to the Ghanaian government, and it became a national monument in 1959. Today, the castle is open to the public as a museum, and it is a popular destination for tourists interested in learning about Ghana’s history and culture.
Cape Coast Castle Door Of No Return
The Door of No Return is one of the most iconic features of Cape Coast Castle, and it is a powerful symbol of the transatlantic slave trade and the horrors that it inflicted upon millions of people. Located in the castle’s dungeon, the Door of No Return was the final exit point for enslaved Africans before they were loaded onto ships and taken across the Atlantic to the Americas and the Caribbean.
For many enslaved Africans, the Door of No Return represented the end of their lives as they knew them. They were taken from their homes and families, forced to endure brutal conditions in the castle’s dungeons, and then marched through the door and onto the waiting ships, never to return to their homeland again.
Today, the Door of No Return serves as a powerful reminder of the atrocities of the transatlantic slave trade, and it is a site of pilgrimage for many people of African descent who come to Ghana to learn about their history and heritage. In recent years, the Ghanaian government has taken steps to promote the Door of No Return as a site of remembrance and reconciliation, and to encourage people to visit Cape Coast Castle and learn about the legacy of slavery and its ongoing impact on the world today.
Despite its grim history, the Door of No Return also serves as a symbol of resilience and hope. Many enslaved Africans who passed through the door were able to survive and build new lives in the Americas and the Caribbean, and their descendants have gone on to make significant contributions to culture, politics, and society in those regions. By acknowledging the past and working toward a more just and equitable future, we can honor the memory of those who passed through the Door of No Return and ensure that their legacy lives on.
The castle, or castle and dungeon, to give it its official name, was first restored in the 1920s by the British Public Works Department. In 1957, when Ghana became independent, the castle came under the care of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB). In the early 1990s, the building was restored by the Ghanaian Government, with funds from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with technical assistance from the Smithsonian Institution and other NGOs. Cape Coast Castle, and other forts and castles in Ghana, are included on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
Now open to the people, the castle is currently a historical museum, and tourists around the world visit everyone to learn more about slave history. You can plan a trip and visit Ghana to learn more about the slave trade. There are other places you would like to visit when you visit Ghana.
Inside Cape Coast Castle
Inside Cape Coast Castle, visitors can see a variety of exhibits and displays that offer a glimpse into the history of the castle and its role in the transatlantic slave trade. Some of the things to see inside Cape Coast Castle include:
- The Castle’s Dungeons: The castle’s dungeons were used to hold enslaved Africans before they were loaded onto ships and taken across the Atlantic. Visitors can see the cramped, dark spaces where the enslaved were kept and learn about the brutal conditions they endured.
- The Door of No Return: The Door of No Return, located in the castle’s dungeon, was the final exit point for enslaved Africans before they were taken to the Americas and the Caribbean. Visitors can see the door and learn about its significance in the history of the slave trade.
- Exhibits on the Transatlantic Slave Trade: The castle features a number of exhibits and displays that provide information about the history and impact of the transatlantic slave trade. Visitors can learn about the conditions on the slave ships, the experiences of enslaved Africans in the Americas, and the legacy of slavery in the modern world.
- The Governor’s Quarters: The castle was the seat of British colonial power in Ghana for many years, and the Governor’s Quarters offer a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the colonial elite. Visitors can see the Governor’s residence, dining room, and other rooms that were used for official functions.
- The Castle Walls and Ramparts: The castle’s walls and ramparts offer stunning views of the surrounding coastline and the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can walk along the walls and learn about the castle’s defensive features and its role in protecting the British colonial presence in Ghana.
Overall, a visit to Cape Coast Castle offers a sobering but important reminder of the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and the ongoing impact of slavery in the modern world. By learning about the history of the castle and its role in the slave trade, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the complex and painful history of Africa and its people.
Things To Do In And Around Cape Coast Castle
Cape Coast Castle is a historic structure located in Ghana, West Africa. Built by European powers in the 17th century, it served as a center for the transatlantic slave trade for over 200 years. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important landmark in Ghana’s history. If you’re planning a trip to Ghana, here are some things to do at Cape Coast Castle:
- Take a tour of the castle: The castle has been restored and preserved to give visitors a glimpse into what life was like during the slave trade era. A guided tour of the castle takes you through the dungeons where slaves were held, the Governor’s quarters, and other areas of the castle. You’ll learn about the history of the castle, the slave trade, and the impact it had on Ghana.
- Visit the Museum: Located within the castle is a museum that houses artifacts and exhibits that provide a deeper understanding of Ghana’s history. You’ll see traditional clothing, weapons, and other artifacts that give insight into the culture of Ghana’s past.
- Explore the town: Cape Coast is a lively town with a rich cultural heritage. Take a walk through the town to see the colorful markets, colonial architecture, and traditional fishing boats along the shore.
- Visit the Kakum National Park: Just a short drive from the castle, Kakum National Park is a lush rainforest with a canopy walkway that gives you a bird’s eye view of the forest. The park is home to many species of animals, including monkeys, elephants, and antelopes.
- Visit the Elmina Castle: Another historic castle in Ghana, the Elmina Castle is located a few kilometers from Cape Coast Castle. It was also used as a center for the transatlantic slave trade and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Attend a cultural event: Ghana is known for its vibrant cultural events and festivals. Check the local calendar to see if there are any events happening during your visit. You may be lucky enough to witness a traditional dance, music performance, or other cultural events.
- Enjoy the beach: Cape Coast has beautiful beaches that are perfect for relaxing and soaking up the sun. The beaches are also a great place to try some of the local seafood and other delicacies.
- Volunteer: If you’re interested in giving back, there are many opportunities to volunteer in Cape Coast. You can work with local organizations to support education, health, or environmental initiatives.
Other Places To Visit Around Cape Coast Castle
There are several other interesting places to visit around Cape Coast Castle, which offer a variety of experiences for visitors. Some of these places include:
Kakum National Park
Located about 30km north of Cape Coast, Kakum National Park is a protected rainforest area that offers visitors the opportunity to walk along a series of canopy walkways suspended high above the forest floor. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, forest elephants, and rare bird species.
About 10km west of Cape Coast lies Elmina Castle, another important historical site that was used as a slave trading post during the transatlantic slave trade. The castle is now a museum that offers exhibits and displays about the history of the slave trade and the impact of colonialism in Ghana.
Cape Coast Market
The Cape Coast Market is a vibrant and bustling market that sells a wide variety of goods, including locally made crafts, clothing, and food. Visitors can wander through the market and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a traditional African market.
The University of Cape Coast
The University of Cape Coast is a renowned institution of higher education that offers a range of academic programs in fields such as agriculture, education, and business. Visitors can explore the campus and attend lectures or seminars on a variety of topics.
Cape Coast Beaches
The coastline around Cape Coast is dotted with beautiful beaches that offer opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. Some of the most popular beaches include Brenu Beach and Moree Beach.
Cape Coast Castle Entrance Fee
Entrance fees are as follows:
|Visitor Category||Entrance Fee*|
|Pupils from Primary to JHS 3||GH¢ 1.00|
|SHS Students||GH¢ 2.00|
|Tertiary Students with ID||GH¢ 3.00|
|Ghanaian Adults||GH¢ 5.00|
|Foreign Children||GH¢ 5.00|
|Foreign Students with ID||GH¢ 30.00|
|Adult Foreigners||GH¢ 40.00|
Central and Western Regions
Cape Coast Castle
Tel +233-3321-32529/ 03321-32701