Elmina - At Ghanas oldest Castle
The oldest of the many castles which were built along the Ghanaian coastline is located in Elmina, a coastal town with just over 25,000 inhabitants in the west of the Central Region. The foundation stone for the construction of this fort with the name Sao Jorge da Mina (later also St. George's Castle or simply Elmina Castle) was laid in 1482 and thus became the first European military and commercial base in sub-Saharan Africa. As the name suggests, it was the Portuguese who first set foot here and secured their rights of use through gifts to the local kingdoms of Fetu and Kommenda. In 1637, with the conquest of the fort by the Dutch, Portuguese dominance in the region was broken and the Netherlands took its place until they sold their property in Elmina to the British, through which the city became part of the Gold Coast Colony. In the meantime, more precisely in 1652, the Dutch built a second fort near the town – the St. Jago da Mina, which still stands there but does not reach the importance of Fort Elmina. Of particular importance at this time was the intense relationship between the Dutch and the Ashanti, who traded here and gained big importance for their wars through the supply of weapons to the Ashanti. On the other hand, the Dutch committed soldiers for their wars in Indochina here. Today, the Java Museum commemorates the history of the so-called "Black Dutch".
In addition to the tourism resulting from this history today, however, fishing still has the greatest importance for the city, although, as in most coastal towns, declines in catches due to overfishing and industrial fishing continue to affect the people in this area.
When you visit Elmina make sure to not only focus on the castle but also take a walk around the harbor area and inner city. It’s a beautiful place with interesting views and people who often welcome you for a talk.