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Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions

Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions

The remains of fortified trading-posts, erected between 1482 and 1786, can still be seen along the coast of Ghana between Keta and Beyin. They were links in the trade routes established by the Portuguese in many areas of the world during their era of great maritime exploration.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Forts et châteaux de Volta, d'Accra et ses environs et des régions centrale et ouest

Sur la côte ghanéenne, entre Keta et Beyin, ces comptoirs fortifiés fondés entre 1482 et 1786 sont les vestiges des itinéraires commerciaux que les Portugais avaient créés à travers le monde à l'époque de leurs grandes découvertes maritimes.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

قلاع وقصور فولتا وأكرا ومحيطهما والمناطق الوسطية والجنوبية

تُعتبر هذه المراكز التجارية المحصّنة التي تقع على الساحل الغانيّ بين كيتا وبيين والتي أُقيمت بين عامي 1482 و1786 آثار الرحلات التجارية التي كان قد شقّها البرتغاليون عبر العالم في زمن اكتشافاتهم البحرية العظيمة.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0



source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Форты и замки Вольты, Большой Аккры, Центрального и Западного регионов

Остатки укрепленных торговых пунктов, сооруженных между 1482 и 1786 гг., все еще можно наблюдать на побережье Ганы между поселениями Кета и Бейин. Они были связаны с торговыми путями, проложенными португальцами в разных уголках мира в эпоху Великих географических открытий.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Fuertes y castillos de Volta, de Accra y sus alrededores,

Este sitio está integrado por una serie de factorías fortificadas escalonadas a lo largo de la costa de Ghana, entre Keta y Beyin, que fueron fundadas entre 1482 y 1786. Son vestigios de los eslabones de la cadena comercial constituida por los portugueses en esta y otras partes del mundo, en la época de sus grandes exploraciones y descubrimientos marítimos.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0


source: NFUAJ

Forten en kastelen, Volta, Groot Accra, centrale en westelijke regio’s

Langs de kust van Ghana, tussen Keta en Beyin, zijn nog steeds de overblijfselen te zien van versterkte handelsposten, gebouwd tussen 1482 en 1786. Ze vormden schakels in de handelsroutes die de Portugezen hadden opgezet in veel gebieden over de hele wereld tijdens de grote maritieme exploratie. Het gebied bestaat uit de drie kastelen Cape Coast, Sint George’s d’Elmina en Christiansborg in Osu, Accra. Daarnaast zijn er vijftien forten – waarvan vier gedeeltelijk in puin, vier ruïnes met zichtbare structuren en twee plekken met resten van vroegere vestingwerken. De forten en kastelen zijn gebouwd door Portugezen, Spanjaarden, Denen, Zweden, Nederlanders, Duitsers en Britten.

Source: unesco.nl

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

These fortified trading posts, founded between 1482 and 1786, and spanning a distance of approximately 500 km along the coast of Ghana between Keta in the east and Beyin in the west, were links in the trading routes established by the Portuguese in many areas of the world during their era of great maritime exploration. The castles and forts were built and occupied at different times by traders from Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Germany and Britain. They served the gold trade of European chartered companies. Latterly they played a significant part in the developing slave trade, and therefore in the history of the Americas, and, subsequently, in the 19th century, in the suppression of that trade.

The property consists of three Castles (Cape Coast, St. George’s d’Elmina and Christiansborg at Osu, Accra), 15 Forts (Good Hope at Senya Beraku; Patience at Apam; Amsterdam at Abandzi; St. Jago at Elmina; San Sebastian at Shama; Metal Cross at Dixcove;  St. Anthony at Axim; Orange at Sekondi; Groot Fredericksborg at Princesstown; William (Lighthouse) at Cape Coast; William at Anomabu;  Victoria at Cape Coast;  Ussher at Usshertown,  Accra; James at Jamestown, Accra and Apollonia at Beyin), four Forts partially in ruins (Amsterdam at Abandzi;  English Fort at British  Komenda; Batenstein at Butre; Prinzensten at Keta), four ruins with visible structures (Nassau at Mouri; Fredensborg at Old Ningo; Vredenburg at Dutch Komenda; Vernon at Prampram and Dorothea at Akwida) and two sites with traces of former fortifications (Frederiksborg at Amanful, Cape Coast and Augustaborg at Teshie, Accra).

The basic architectural design of the Forts was in the form of a large square or rectangle. The outer components consisted of four bastions/batteries or towers located at the corners, while the inner components consisted of buildings of two or three storeys with or without towers, in addition to an enclosure, courtyard or a spur. Many have been altered, during their use by successive European powers, and some survive only as ruins.

St. George’s d’Elmina Castle, built in 1482, is one of the oldest European buildings outside Europe, and the historic town of Elmina is believed to be the location of the first point of contact between Europeans and sub-Saharan Africans. 

The castles and forts constituted for more than four centuries a kind of ‘shopping street’ of West Africa to which traders of Europe’s most important maritime nations came to exchange their goods for those of African traders, some of whom came from very far in the interior.

They can be seen as a unique “collective historical monument”: a monument not only to the evils of the slave trade, but also to nearly four centuries of pre-colonial Afro-European commerce on the basis of equality rather than on that of the colonial basis of inequality.  They represent, significantly and emotively, the continuing history of European-African encounter over five centuries and the starting point of the African Diaspora.

Criterion (vi): The Castles and Forts of Ghana shaped not only Ghana’s history but that of the world over four centuries as the focus of first the gold trade and then the slave trade. They are a significant and emotive symbol of European-African encounters and of the starting point of the African Diaspora.


The property contains all the significant remains of forts and castles along the coast.

Some of the ruins are susceptible to wave action.  The sea has attacked a major part of Fort Prinzenstein but its protection has been enhanced by the construction of a sea defence wall, and efforts are being made to stabilise the remaining parts.

The sites overall remains vulnerable to environmental pressures, development pressure including localized quarrying, and lack of adequate funding for the regular maintenance and conservation of the sites. There are also no buffer zones.


The forts and castles were periodically altered, extended and modified to suit changing circumstances and new needs. In their present conditions, they demonstrate that history of change. As symbols of trade, and particularly the slave trade, they need to continue to reflect the way they were used.

Protection and management requirements

The Castles and Forts have been respectively established and protected as National Monuments under the National Liberation Council Decree (N.L.C.D) 387 of 1969 and Executive Instrument (E.I.) 29 of 1973. All sites are in the custody of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB). Also James Fort, Accra, and Fort William, Anomabu, are no longer in use as prisons and have been handed over to the GMMB.

The Monuments Division of the GMMB provides technical advice and management. Regular state-of-conservation inspections are undertaken. Priority programmes are established to help ensure that appropriate interventions are carried out

The existing legislative framework is to be reviewed, and it is expected that a new legal framework will enhance the existence of the heritage resources, the socio-economic developments and improve the quality of life of the local inhabitants.

A management plan still needs to be prepared. There is an on-going need to ensure adequate resources and training for staff, and to demarcate the boundaries of the sites and establish buffer zones.