Historic forts of Ghana

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Historical map of the Gold Coast showing the forts around 1700

The historic forts of Ghana are a series of fortifications along the Ghanaian gold coast , the origins of which in some cases go back to the 15th century and which are in part counted as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO .


No African coastal strip has such a density of fortresses built by European states as the so-called Gold Coast, i.e. the coast of today's Republic of Ghana in West Africa . The first fortress here was built in Elmina in 1482 by the Portuguese ( Fort São Jorge da Mina ), the last in 1784 by the Danes near Keta ( Fort Prinzenstein ). While Fort São Jorge da Mina has towered over Elmina for more than 500 years, Fort Ruychaver in the Netherlands existed for four years.

These fortresses were primarily trading bases, especially for the slave trade , and - until the 19th century - not the starting point for colonial conquests. Usually they were not owned by European powers, but places acquired by African powers through a lease. Therefore, many forts not only changed their European owners several times, but z. B. as a result of the conquests of one African empire by another, also their African "landlords". So came z. B. the lease of Elmina as spoils of war from the kingdom of the Denkyra into the hands of the Ashanti empire, and with the conquest of the empire Akyem and the kingdom of the Ga the Ashanti also became lease recipients for all European forts of Accra . In 1750, the British Parliament paid a total of £ 13,000 a year to use its forts on the Gold Coast. The following list shows the respective European owners. However, most of the forts were not owned by the crown of the respective country, but were administered and operated by private companies.

Some well-preserved forts, such as Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle , are open to visitors and show in an impressive way how thousands of prisoners in the cellar dungeons often waited for months to be shipped as slaves to North, Central and South America.

The high density of forts in the various competing European countries can be explained by the fact that Ghana is one of the few countries in West Africa with steep rocky coasts. The rocks served on the one hand as building material for the fortresses, on the other hand, in contrast to a sandy coast, they made it possible for merchant ships to approach the coast, which greatly simplified the handling of goods during loading and unloading.


The fortresses and posts are sorted geographically from west to east in the following table, in the first column the name or names of the fort, in the second the modern place name:

Surname place comment
Fort Albany (Ghana) (?) Half assinia The fort existed as a British settlement in the 17th century, for which rent had to be paid to the King of Apollonia. It no longer existed in the 1830s; is still marked on British maps of the 19th century.
Fort Appolonia ( Fort William II ) Beyin A Swedish trading post existed in the early 1650s. Later, a Dutch and a French trading post existed at this point for a short time. In 1691 a British trading post was established here, which was expanded into a fortress in 1750–70. The branch was given up in 1820, but was reoccupied in 1836. With the exchange of 1868 the fort fell to the Dutch, who made it into Fort William III. renamed. 1872 Handover to the British, who blew it up in 1873. Reconstructed 1962–1968.
Fort Eliza Carthago Ankobra 1640–1680 Dutch; 1702 only traces of ruins remain
Fort Duma at the mouth of the Ankober (Rio da Cobra) 1623–1636 Portuguese
Fort Ruychaver at the Ankobra Jul / Aug 1654–1659 Dutch, blown up by its own commander. Extensive excavations have been carried out here with little result
Fort St. Anthony Axim 1500 (1502?) Portuguese trading post; Destroyed by locals in 1514; 1515 again Portuguese trading post; 1541 reconstruction; February 8, 1642 captured by the Dutch and further expanded; 1664 British; 1665 Dutch; British in 1872; Restored 1951–56
Groß Friedrichsburg Fortress ( Fort Hollandia ) Princestown hist. Pocquesoe 1683–1717 in Brandenburg; Sold to the Netherlands in 1717, but held by locals under the leadership of Jan Conny until 1724 ; after the contract with the Dutch (November 22, 1722) handed over by Jan Conny; Renamed Fort Hollandia after it was taken over by the Netherlands , handed over to the British in 1872
Sophie-Louise-Schanze Takrama / Taccarama, hist. Krema 1684 Brandenburg base; 1717 sold to the Dutch; the exact location is unknown today, the last research trip to rediscover it took place in 2016/2017. It is often confused with the Brandenburg Lodge Taccarary (now Takoradi).
Dorotheenschanze (Fort Dorothea) Akwidaa or Accada 1685 in Brandenburg (see also Groß Friedrichsburg ); Dutch 1687–1690; 1698 returned to Brandenburger; Abandoned in 1709; 1712 Dutch, later returned to Brandenburg (or in the meantime Prussia); Sold to the Netherlands in 1717
Fort Metal Cross ( Fort Metallen Kruis ) Dixcove 1684 first attempt at a British settlement failed due to resistance from the locals; Brandenburg until 1691; Left to the British in 1691; 1691–1697 British fortress construction, abandoned in 1826, re-occupation by the British in 1830; Dutch after exchange from 1868 ( Fort Metallen Kruis ), but occupied by the Fanti Federation , British again in 1872
Fort Batenstein ( Fort Batensteyn ) Butre (Butrie) Dutch trading post since 1598; 1650–52 Swedish trading post; 1656 Dutch, beginning of the construction of the fort; Captured by British in 1664; 1665 Dutch reconquest; around 1700 a Brandenburg trading post; Dutch in 1717, later abandoned; Dutch again in 1818; Abandoned in 1827, rebuilt by the Dutch in 1828; 1872 British
Fort Witsen Takoradi hist. Taccorary formerly French, but abandoned again and completely disintegrated in 1640; British 1640, abandoned in 1644, Swedish 1650–1657; 1657 Danish; 1658 Dutch; Danish again until 1659; 1659 to April 21, 1664 Dutch; British (English) April 21, 1664 to January 4, 1665; Dutch January 4, 1665 and blown up on January 6, 1665; 1685 establishment of a Brandenburg branch; 1717 Dutch; 1872 British
Fort Orange (Fort Oranje) Sekondi approx. 1670 Dutch, 1680 English; Occupied by the local Ahanta in 1694 ; destroyed by the French during the American Revolutionary War 1779–1784; Remains taken by Dutch people; British in 1785 (in exchange for Fort Vredenstein (Kommendah)); Abandoned in 1840, later reoccupied and rebuilt by the Dutch; British in 1872; used as a lighthouse since then
Fort Sekondi Sekondi English fort built in 1682, Dutch fort in 1867, British again in 1872, few traces still exist.
Fort San Sebastian Shama from or after 1558 Portuguese; 1590 start of further construction, abandoned again in 1600; between 1600 and 1640 French (is not certain); Dutch from 1640; Besieged (in vain) by the British in 1664; abandoned before 1870, British in 1872, restored 1954–57
Fort Vredenburg Komenda from 1659/1660 Dutch trading post; November 1681 Capture and destruction of the facility by the locals; 1663 English trading post, but later abandoned due to local hostilities; 1688 Dutch, beginning with the construction of the fort; January 1782 Fort captured and blown up by the British, 1785 repossession by the Dutch (in exchange for Sekondi), rebuilding of the fort; 1872 British
Fort English Kommenda hist. Ekki-Tekki British trading post in 1632, but abandoned in 1633; English trading post again in 1663, but abandoned again in 1688; 1691 failed attempt to re-establish an English settlement; 1695–1698 construction of a fort by the British; Abandoned in 1816; British again later ?; 1868 Dutch; 1872 British
Fort São Jorge da Mina ( St. George's Castle or Elmina Castle ) Elmina 1482 Portuguese; 1540 reconstruction of the fort; 1637 Dutch; Captured by natives in 1680/81, British in 1872
Fort Conraadsburg or Fort St. Jago Elmina on the St.Jago hill near Elmina; from 1555 Portuguese chapel, then unfortified Portuguese base, 1637 Dutch begin to build the fort, which became the starting point for the subsequent conquest of Elmina; 1872 British
Fort de Veer (or "Veerssche Schans), Fort Java , Fort Scomarus , Fort Beekestein , Fort Nagtglas Elmina No forts comparable to the “slave castles”, but fortifications from the 19th century, each 200-300 meters north of Fort Conraadsburg and (Fort de Veer) 700 meters east of Fort São Jorge da Mina .
Jankumase Jankumase (approx. 40 km north of Cape Coast) British outpost fortified in 1822
Cape Coast Castle ( Fort Carolusburg ) (Fort Karlsborg) Cape Coast hist.Ogua (Ugwà) before 1637 Portuguese base; 1638 Dutch; in the period 1647–1648 English and Dutch trading post next to each other; both abandoned in 1648; from 1650 English and Swedish trading post next to each other; In 1652 the English were forced to give up by the locals (under Swedish pressure), and construction of Fort Karlsborg (Carolusburg) began; 1656 Danish; Dutch in 1659, but Dutch expelled by locals; 1659 owned by the fetus, returned to the Swedes in 1659; April 22, 1663 to May 2, 1663 again in possession of the fetus; May 2, 1663 to May 3, 1664 Dutch; British from May 3, 1664
Ojuquah Ojuqua (approx. 30 km NE of Cape Coast) British outpost fortified in 1822
Fort Victoria Cape Coast 1702 British; Rebuilt in 1873
Fort William Cape Coast 1819 British
Fort McCarthy Cape Coast 1822 British
Fort Frederiksborg (Fort Royal) Amamfro hist. Mamfru 1659 Danish; 1684 (1688) British (occupied by British in 1684 due to the gambling debts of commandant Lykke and finally ceded to England by Denmark in 1688)
Fort Nassau Mouri (Moree) (on Mount Cong) 1598 Dutch trading post; 1624 extension; 1640 sold to the British by the King of Sabou; 1659 Danish; 1664 British; 1665 Dutch; 1782 British; 1785 Dutch (in exchange for Sekondi); 1868 British
Anashan , also Ingenisian, Anschiang, Anikam u. Ä. coastal town of the same name 1663 British trading post
Fort William ( Fort Charles ) Anomabu hist. Annamaboe 1640 Dutch trading post; 1652/53 Swedish; 1657 Danish; April 1659 Dutch; 1659 English; Dutch 1663, British May 1664, later abandoned, from 1680 new British trading post and construction of the fort; in the period 1744–1753 French settlement alongside British; 1753 Expulsion of the French (under British pressure) by the natives
? half an hour's walk E from Anomabu in 1839: the ruins of an earlier Dutch fort
Fort Dom Pedro Anashan 1640, British; 1683–1690 Portuguese (after they had cleared Christiansborg again)
Fort William Adja (Adra) 1657 Swedish; 1660 Danish; before May 1664 Dutch; British from May 1664; later Dutch again; 1674 British
Egya Egya 1640–1644 and from 1663 British trading post
Fort Amsterdam (Ghana) Kormantse hist. Kormantin 1631 British; 1644 Dutch; British again in 1638; 1645–1663 British (English); 1663 Dutch; British in 1782, but abandoned in 1783; 1785 Dutch; June / July 1807 occupied by Ashanti (Dutch remained present); Captured and destroyed by the local Anomabu in 1811 ; 1868 British
Amoku Ankaful at Saltpond 1786–1801 French trading post
Fort Tantum Tantum hist: Tantumquerry 1662 British base; Expanded into a fortress in 1724; Abandoned in 1820; Rebuilt in 1843, later abandoned
Fort Patience or Fort Leydsamheid , also Vestung de la patience Apam 1697 Dutch; 1782 British; 1785 Dutch; Looted and largely destroyed by the local Akim (people) in 1811 ; later reconstruction by the Dutch; 1868 British
Winneba Winneba hist. Tumpa British trading post from 1632; later abandoned again (1644 at the latest); 1694 fort; Abandoned by the British in 1812 and blown up the fort
? Sanje (half a day trip O Winneba) in 1839 the ruins of a Dutch fort
Fort Goede Hoop Senya Beraku (Little Beraku) 1663 Dutch; 1704 British; 1706 Dutch; 1782 British; 1785 Dutch (in exchange for Sekondi); 1872 British
Shido Shido British trading post in 1690
Fort James Accra (Little Accra) 1672 British
Fort Crevecouer ( Ussher Fort ) Accra (Little Accra) 1642 Dutch trading post; Captured and destroyed by British April 18, 1782; Rebuilt by the Dutch in 1785; 1816ff. temporarily abandoned; British in 1868 and renamed Fort Ussher
Christiansborg (Portuguese Fort Cará) today's Osu Castle (Osu, Ossu, Ursue) 1558 Portuguese lodge; Destroyed by locals in 1576; 1580 French; 1583 Portuguese, but later abandoned; 1650 Swedish; Sweden started to build fortresses in 1652; 1658 Danish; 1659 Dutch; 1661 Danish (after official purchase from the Portuguese); 1679–1683 Portuguese (The Danish commander sold the fort back to the Portuguese.); 1683 under the control of the local Akwamu ; then Danish, 1693–1694 reoccupied by locals; 1694 Danish; 1850 British
Tema Tema small Dutch fort, abandoned in 1779/81; 1783 Danish
Ponny Ponny small Dutch fort, abandoned in 1779/81; 1783 Danish
Fort Augustaborg Teshie hist. Tessing 1656 Danish trading post; Dutch until 1781; Danish again from 1781; from 1787 expansion to the fortress hill; 1850 British
Fort Vernon Prampram native place name Gbugbla 1740 re-establishment of a British trading post; later destroyed by Danes; completely derelict before 1783; 1806 British new construction of a fortress hill, but almost fell into disrepair in 1811 due to poor building materials; abandoned around 1820; Occupied again by the British in 1831; Abandoned in 1844; later only ruins are visible
Fort Fredensborg Ningo (Big Ningo) at Keta 1734 Danish, start of further construction (completed in 1741); 1850 already half-ruined British; today only ruins directly on the receding beach
Aflahu Aflahu 1787 Danish trading post
Lay Lay British trading post sometime before 1783 and abandoned again
Way (Wey) from 1757 Danish trading post; abandoned before 1783
Tubercle Tuberku (on the mainland) 1775 Dutch trading post
Fort Kongensteen Ada (the Ada Island in the Volta near Tuberku) Portuguese trading center in the 16th century; 1650 Danish base; October 15, 1783 laying of the foundation stone for Danish fort; Conquered by Ashanti in 1811; 1850 British
Wute (Fouthe) Wute (behind Lay) in 1783 only the half-ruined house of a former Danish trading lodge is visible
Fort Prinzenstein ( Singelenburght ) Keta on the eastern Voltaufer 1714 Danish base; later abandoned; Newly occupied by Dutch in 1734; Attacked by Dahomey in 1737 and blown up by the Dutch, June 22, 1784 Laying of the foundation stone for a Danish fort, British in 1850; jail since the 1980s
Fort Kumasi Kumasi Erected and restored by the British in 1896
Tuberreko Tubereko (small island near the mouth of the Volta) 1780s / 1790s Danish trading post

World Heritage

Fortresses and castles in the Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western regions
UNESCO world heritage UNESCO World Heritage Emblem
National territory: GhanaGhana Ghana
Type: Culture
Criteria : (vi)
Reference No .: 34
UNESCO region : Africa
History of enrollment
Enrollment: 1979  ( session 3 )

In 1979, UNESCO added eleven of the forts to the list of World Heritage Sites . These are:


  • Wilhelm Boßmann: Reyse to Guinea or detailed description of the gold pits / elephant teeth and slave trade / along with their inhabitants customs / religion / regiment / wars / heyraths and burials / also in all animals located here / so previously unknown in Europe . Heyl & Liebezeit, Hamburg 1708.
  • Kwame Yeboah Daaku: Trade and Politics on the Gold Coast, 1600-1720. A study of the African reaction to European trade . Clarendon Press, Oxford 1970, ISBN 0-19-821653-X ( Oxford studies in African affairs ).
  • Albert van Dantzig: Forts and Castles of Ghana . Sedco Pub Ltd, Accra 1980, ISBN 9964-720-10-6 (Reprinted: ibid 1999).
  • JG Doorman: The Dutch-West-Indian Company on the Gold Coast . In: Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde . 40, 5/6, 1898, ZDB -ID 422634-3 , pp. 387-496.
  • JD Fage: An Atlas of African History . Arnold, London 1966.
  • GSP Freeman-Grenville: The New Atlas of African History . Simon & Schuster, New York NY a. a. 1991, ISBN 0-13-612151-9 .
  • Paul Erdmann Isert : New trip to Guinea and the Caribbean Islands in America in the years 1783 to 1787 along with news of the negro trade in Africa . sl, Berlin and Leipzig 1790.
  • Christoph Rella: In the beginning there was the fort. European fortification policy in Guinea and West India (1415–1815) Expansion - Fortification - Colonization . Self-published, Vienna 2008, ISBN 978-3-402-13992-9 , pp. 369 ( univie.ac.at [PDF; 7.6 MB ]).
  • Heinrich Sieveking: The Glückstädter Guinea trip in the 17th century . In: Quarterly for social and economic history . 30, 1937, ISSN  0340-8728 , pp. 19-71.

as well as various individual literature

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Ulrich van der Heyden: Red eagles on Africa's coast: the Brandenburg-Prussian colony Großfriedrichsburg in West Africa. 2nd modified edition, Selignow, Berlin, 2001, ISBN 3-933889-04-9 , p. 32
  2. Bernhard Knapstein, in: Böhme-Zeitung, In search of Tacrama, February 25, 2017 .