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Elmina Castle in Ghana

Updated on June 30, 2013

Elmina Castle Today

Elmina Castle is a popular tourist site, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Historic Site. It is open to the public and tour guides are available. I recommend that you use a guide because the castle is big and there is a lot to see. In addition, if every guide is a story teller as our guide was, you will have a very interesting experience.

Elmina Castle!
Elmina Castle! | Source

The History of Elmina Castle

Elmina Castle was built in 1482 by Portugal. It was originally called Sao Jorge da Mina (St. George of the Mine) It was often shortened to Mina.It is located in Elmina, Ghana which was once known as The Gold Coast. It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea and the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara. The castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic Slave Trade. In 1637, it was seized by the Dutch. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814; in 1872 it became a possession of the British Empire.

Britain granted The Gold Coast independance in 1957 and control of Elmina Castle was given to the nation.

Ghana

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A markerElmina, Ghana -
Elmina, Ghana
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B markerAccra, Ghana -
Accra, Ghana
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C markerAfrica -
Africa
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The busy dock!
The busy dock! | Source

The Town of Elmina

The city is on the southern coast of Ghana. It is a fishing community and the town is rich with vibrant color and bustling activity. When you tour the castle, be sure to leave yourself time to walk around the town and visit the market to partake in local treats. What was most appealing to me was the blend of modern and historical, "western style" dress and traditional. It is as common to see women dressed in a traditional dashiki, carrying their wares in large baskets on their heads as it is to see men in jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps.

Inside Elmina Castle

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A popular place for school field trips. The kids loved to pose for us!One of the holding areas.On the way to the boats that would carry them auction.The exit to the boats.It is hard to reconcile the beauty of this path with its unthinkable destination.The waiting boats.The Portugese church which was housed there before the Dutch took over.The dungeon for runaway or "unruly" slaves. They were left to stand in the small, dank, dark cell without food or water until they collapsed.
A popular place for school field trips. The kids loved to pose for us!
A popular place for school field trips. The kids loved to pose for us! | Source
One of the holding areas.
One of the holding areas. | Source
On the way to the boats that would carry them auction.
On the way to the boats that would carry them auction. | Source
The exit to the boats.
The exit to the boats. | Source
It is hard to reconcile the beauty of this path with its unthinkable destination.
It is hard to reconcile the beauty of this path with its unthinkable destination. | Source
The waiting boats.
The waiting boats. | Source
The Portugese church which was housed there before the Dutch took over.
The Portugese church which was housed there before the Dutch took over. | Source
The dungeon for runaway or "unruly" slaves. They were left to stand in the small, dank, dark cell without food or water until they collapsed.
The dungeon for runaway or "unruly" slaves. They were left to stand in the small, dank, dark cell without food or water until they collapsed. | Source

More Views of Elmina Castle.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
An ornamental fence.A breath of fresh air.A holding cell.The bridge you cross to enter the castle.A decorative crest.Armored against boats and ships.
An ornamental fence.
An ornamental fence. | Source
A breath of fresh air.
A breath of fresh air. | Source
A holding cell.
A holding cell. | Source
The bridge you cross to enter the castle.
The bridge you cross to enter the castle. | Source
A decorative crest.
A decorative crest. | Source
Armored against boats and ships.
Armored against boats and ships. | Source

The Tour of Elmina Castle

When you are in the castle, you will see how well maintainred it is. Part of the tour talks about the restoration that was done but most of it is original. It is damp and dark in certain areas and many of the ceilings are very low. If you are claustraphobic, you may want to avoid certain dungeon areas. This tour can be overwhelming. It is difficult to conceive of the horrors that happened there. Elmina Castle is right on the coast. When you exit the castle, you are greeted with the fresh scent and sight of the sea, a much needed breath of fresh air.

For me, this was one of the best souvenirs I have ever bought!
For me, this was one of the best souvenirs I have ever bought! | Source

What to Expect when visiting Tourist Areas in Ghana.

Whenever you visit a tourist are, be aware that many of the local people will be waiting to meet, greet and sell you you local crafts. The Ghanaian people were very friendly and warm. As we stepped off of our bus, we were greeted and escorted to the castle. They asked us our names and where we were from. When we exited the castle, our new friends were waiting for us with bracelets and shells that they had personalized for us. Most asked for 5 or 10 cedis (Ghanaian currency. 1 cedi is about fifty cents.) There were also school age children asking for pens, pencils and candy. This is very common everywhere you go. You are not obligated to buy or give.

Locals gather near the castle to sell their personalized crafts or refreshments.
Locals gather near the castle to sell their personalized crafts or refreshments. | Source
A view of the coast and surrounding city.
A view of the coast and surrounding city. | Source

This Time For Africa

Elmina, Ghana

Elmina is a town steeped in cultural activity. If you want to visit a place that conveys the true heart and spirit of the Ghanaian people, Elmina is a great place to go. While the castle can be depressing, it is such an important part of our history, we would be remiss not to visit while there.

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    • jabelufiroz profile image

      Firoz 3 years ago from India

      Great article on Elmina Castle in Ghana. Voted up.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      btrbell, quite interesting story about the Elmina Castle. These historical can be best appreciated by visiting and I wish I could have one. Nicely described. Voted up.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 3 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent description of Elmina Castle, Randi, and your photos are the perfect accompanying touch.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      An interesting change of pace for you. I take it you have visited this place since those are your pics.....good tour articles with sound suggestions. Maybe some day I'll get out of Olympia and see the world. :)

      Have a great Sunday in the sweltering heat....90 degrees here to day and that is more than hot enough for us Northwesterners.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, jabelufiroz, for visiting my site and voting up!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      btrbell thank you for sharing this tour with us interesting and fascinating..voted up

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Srsddn, thank you so much for visiting my site and voting up. It was an amazing experience!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, drjb! Your consistent support is much appreciated!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hey Bill!

      I had the good fortune of doing an eye clinic in Accra 2 years ago. It was an amazing experience!

      Try to stay inside and stay cool!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you Frank! :-)

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for the wonderful tour.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      thank YOU, Martin

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Randi,

      Thanks for this tour of Elmina and Castle. I have seen a number of documentaries on Ghana and this made a great addition as I had no knowledge of it before. I have only been to Tunisia in Africa and would love to see more of this amazing continent. Cheers for filling us in from a personal experience. Votes, shared and pinned!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Suzie! It was an amazing experience but I have to admit to being a bit envious of your trip to Tunesia. My husband's family is from Morocco and many people in the village we use to live in were from Tunisia and I would love to go there!

      Thanks so much for the votes, share and pin!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Wonderful hub on a place I would have never thought to visit. Thanks for sharing not only the history but wonderful photos. Great job!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      This is a very god description of Elmina Castle. I enjoyed this hub and loved the picutures,

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, FlourishAnyway! To be honest, I really didn't want to go at first, but it is such an essential part of our history, as well and I am so glad I saw it.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Pamela! It was an interesting tour!

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Wonderful description of Elmina Castle and its history. Your photos are superb. This is the sort of place I would love to visit. Thank you for sharing

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you so much, Rosemay. It was an amazing trip, altogether!

    • profile image

      Valleypoet 3 years ago

      Very interesting hub, sounds like a fascinating place to visit...thanks for sharing:-))

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Valleyoet! It was a very fascinating trip!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, Randi, this is wonderful!

      Thank you for taking us on a tour of the fascinating Elimina Castle!!!

      I would love to go, but you have covered it so well, I feel like I have been.

      Voted up ++++ and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Aww, Faith! Thank you so much! What an amazing compliment!! To be honest, I don't think I could begin to describe some of the emotions and feelings as we were herded through the holding cells. You honor me with your comment, votes and share! Thank you so much!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      This sounds like an interesting place to visit. I am always intrigued by such tales. One day maybe I will be able to visit there...and when I do I will be well prepared as you have drawn such an intricate map of what to expect. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Angels are on the way to you today :) ps Pinned

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Pamela, thank you so much! The whole Ghana experience was pretty amazing! I appreciate the pin and the angels! I hope all is well with you! Hugs to you! Randi

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