Cannons facing the sea at Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

Overlooking palm fringed beaches, with colourful fishing boats and white sea spray, Cape Coast Castle is set in a location so beautiful that one is tempted to block out the gruesome history and former purpose of the huge construction.

In 1653 the Swedish Africa Company built a first, wooden structure with the purpose of trading in timber and gold. Lateron Cape Coast Castle was rebuilt in stone and expanded. Throughout the 18th century it was repurposed as a “Slave Castle” and used in the Trans-Atlantiv Slave trade. In the large underground dungeons as many as one thousand men and women were held at a time. They would be held in the dark and damp cells for several months before being transfered to ships that would take them to the Americas as slaves.

Living conditions were horrifying, as there was neither light, sanitary facilities nor adequate food or drinking water provided. Meanwhile, in the upper living quarters, overlooking the beautiful coastal scenery, the European “traders” lived in relative luxury. And one can but wonder, how they could sleep at night.

Today the Castle is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be visited on a guided tour. Visitors can learn about the history of the region, the castle and trans-atlantic slavery in the castle’s museum.