Fort Groß Friedrichsburg

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Fort Groß Friedrichsburg
Contemporary representation of the Groß Friedrichsburg fort at the time of its completed expansion after 1686

Contemporary representation of the Groß Friedrichsburg fort at the time of its completed expansion after 1686

Alternative name (s): Fredericksburg / Fort Hollandia
Creation time : 1683
Conservation status: ruin
Place: Princes Town, Ahanta West District
Geographical location 4 ° 47 '28 "  N , 2 ° 8' 2"  W Coordinates: 4 ° 47 '28 "  N , 2 ° 8' 2"  W.
Fort Groß Friedrichsburg (Ghana)
Fort Groß Friedrichsburg

Fort Groß Friedrichsburg was a Brandenburg fortress in Groß Friedrichsburg (colony) on the Gold Coast (West Africa) . Groß Friedrichsburg is one of 35 historical forts on the coast of Ghana .


After the fort was built under Elector Friedrich Wilhelm (Brandenburg) in 1683, it became a central hub for the European slave trade. Africans were held here until they were evacuated, mainly to the Caribbean sugar cane plantations.

After Friedrich Wilhelm I (Prussia) sold the colony in 1717 , the fortress officially became the property of the Netherlands in 1718 . The Dutch, who were only able to take over the fort in 1724 after several years of occupation by locals, renamed the fortress Fort Hollandia and intensified the slave trade. The fort was abandoned by the Dutch in 1815 and sold to the British Crown in 1872.


The former Fort Groß Friedrichsburg is located on the coast of the Ahanta West District in the Western Region (Ghana) , southwest of Sekondi-Takoradi and northwest of the Cape of the Three Points . In the northwest of the fortress ruins, about 100 m below the Manfro Hill , on which the fort was built, lies the city of Princes Town with a population of 5,200 . It was built near the confluence of two rivers, the larger of which flows around the city to the north and west. East of the city and northeast of Manfro Hill , a lagoon separates the mainland from the open sea.


Contemporary plan of the fort with African village and unloading of goods via smaller boats
English representation of Groß Friedrichsburg

On December 27, 1682, two Brandenburg ships under the expedition leader Otto Friedrich von der Groeben reached the African coast. After the occupation of the area between the southeastern Capo de tres Puntas and the Manfro mountain by soldiers and sailors of the expeditionary corps on December 31, 1682, the Brandenburg flag was hoisted on the Manfro on New Year's Day 1683 . Immediately after conclusion of a contract with the inhabitants of lying at the foot of the mountain village Pokesu (Pocquesöe) on the establishment of a protectorate on January 5, 1683 was the construction of fortifications on the Manfro started the von der Groeben in Big Friedrichs-Berg renamed .

Building materials brought from Europe were used in the construction of the fort designed by the Brandenburg fortress master builder Karl Konstantin von Schnitter . The base of the fortress resembled a regular square, which was surrounded by a main wall made of stone with embedded casemates and had four pointed bastions at the corners . The bastions were laid out in north-south and east-west directions, with the north bastion serving to defend the land side, while the others faced the sea side.

The entrance to the fort with a bell tower above the gate was on the northeast. Opposite him, inside on the southwest side, stood the fortress commandant's house. The respective commandant received the title of "General Director in the name of her Electoral Highness of Brandenburg and his African Company", with which he also held the position of governor of all Brandenburg possessions of the colony Groß Friedrichsburg in Guinea (region) . The fortress was later added to the south-eastern outer wall with a separate entrance, the “outer works ”.

The garrison of Fort Groß Friedrichsburg initially had a strength of 40 men, consisting of seafarers and regular soldiers who were brought along, who came from the Marinier Corps (Brandenburg) . The garrison had to be constantly replaced due to the unfamiliar climatic, hygienic and above all medical conditions. Therefore, there were many replacement shipments. The highest garrison strength was reached in 1686 with 59 men. By 1692 the fortification received exactly 44 guns, the majority of which were directed towards the sea. In 1712 the crew decreased to 25 men. The fort remained occupied by Brandenburg soldiers from 1683 to 1717. The commanders of Fort Groß Friedrichsburg were at the same time "General Director on behalf of their Electoral Highness of Brandenburg and his African Company", that is to say governor of all Brandenburg possessions in today's Ghana.

With the end of the colonial ambitions of Brandenburg-Prussia , the colony and the fortress were sold to the Dutch West India Company in 1717/20 . After the departure of the last Prussian general director, his former local ally, a tribal chief, whose name has been passed down in various spellings as Johannes Conrad or Jan Conny, took over the fortress and equipped it with previously captured cannons. Until 1724 he defended the fortress against several massive attacks by the Dutch, but then after almost seven years had to leave it to the Dutch, who renamed it Fort Hollandia . In 1815 the fort was finally abandoned by the Dutch; the colony was sold to the UK in 1872 .

Current condition

The fortress of Groß Friedrichsburg is only partially preserved today. While the north and east bastions as well as the north-east outer wall and the outer works no longer exist, the south and west sides of the fort including the governor's house are still in a fairly good structural condition. The state of Ghana rents a few simple rooms in the buildings, with electricity but no running water. The fortress also houses a small museum .


Web links

Commons : Groß Friedrichsburg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. See U. van der Heyden (2001): Red eagles on Africa's coast. The Brandenburg-Prussian colony Großfriedrichsburg in West Africa , p. 44 ff.
  2. Ulrich van der Heyden: Otto Friedrich von der Groeben - founder of Großfriedrichsburg , from: Die Mark Brandenburg , magazine for the Mark and the State of Brandenburg, Lucie Großer Edition 2007, issue 67, pages 5 to 7.
  3. a b History of the Marine Infantry (1675–1919), Großfriedrichsburg (1684–1721) , on: