Historical sites are things Ghana can boast of. From the Ashanti kingdom to the Greater Accra region and down to the central region, those are the top destinations hosting some of the country’s historical sites. But the Western Region can also boost of few historical sites, like the Fort Santo Antonio.
Fort Santo Antonio, which later became known as Fort Saint Anthony, is one of the oldest fort built by the Europeans in the time of Gold Coast. It was located in Axim in the Western Region of Ghana.
During the Portuguese time, they built a trading post in Axin, near the edge of the River Ankobra, but they abandon it due to the attacks by the local people of Axim. Later in 1515, they constructed a massive triangular fort on a small promontory closer to the River Ankobia, named Santo Antonio. Fort Santo Antonio was the second built fort by the Portugues after St. George’s Castle (Elmina Castle). To enhance its defense on the landward side, a three-meter deep rock-cut trench was constructed.
The Fort remained the abode of the Portuguese slave traders who came to Gold Coast to trade after the attacks for over four years, even after the fall of Elmina Castle to the Dutch in 1637. Later in 1642 the Dutch finally overpowered the Portugues, seized the Fort, and made it part of their territory, then Known as Dutch Gold Coast.
The Dutch expanded the Fort because their trade grew in number and a large fort was needed to store their goods such as gold, timbers, foods, and freshwater used by the Dutch and the slaves they acquired for next shipment to Europe after the dissolution of the Brandenburg Company and the death of John Conny (see Fort Gross Fredericksburg). The area was also one big source of timber and cotton for Dutch plantations.
In 1872 the Dutch handed the Fort over to the British administration and departed form Gold Coast. Handing over the Fort to the British was an account if their loss of monopoly over the slave trade business and also loss of jurisdiction in the place with hitherto used to be their territory.
During the 1950s the British handed over the Fort to Ghana after gaining independence. It was rehabilitated for use as government and local council offices.
The Fort Santo Antonio is one of the most visited historical destinations in the Western Region of Ghana. If you are in Ghana or planning a trip to Ghana, Fort Santo should be on your bucket list if you want to know more about slave history in Africa. The historical Fort host some artifacts such as Paintings and portraits of former commanders of the Fort, shackles used to chain slaves, and cups used by slave masters.