Elmina Castle is situated opposite Fort St. Jago in the little town with the same name in Ghana.
Elmina Castle was founded in 1482 by the Portugese to protect the Gold Coast they discovered in 1471. It was completed in 1486. They called the castle São Jorge da Mina (St. George of the Mines). From the castle the Portugese carried out the trade in gold, ivory and slaves with the local tribes. The castle is the oldest European building in Africa below the Sahara.
Between 1550 and 1637 the Portugese rebuilt parts of the castle.
In 1637 the Dutch sieged the Portugese castle by bombarding it from a hill north of the castle. They took over the castle and called it Elmina Castle.
To prevent others from using the same tactic they built a fort on that hill, called Fort Koenraadsburg, the present-day Fort St. Jago. The castle became the headquarters of the Dutch West Indian Company on the Dutch Gold Coast.
Between 1637 and 1774 the Dutch rebuilt and enlarged the castle; turning the old Portugese church into an auction hall, founding a Dutch chapel and strengthening its defences. On the north side of the castle were several buildings built to breed civet cats for their musk.
During the Dutch period Elmina castle was the rival of the nearby British Cape Coast Castle. Slave trade was carried out on a large scale until 1814 when slave trade was abolished by the Dutch. By the end of the 18th century some 30.000 slaves had already passed through Elmina Castle each year.
In 1872, with the exchange of forts, Elmina Castle was ceded to the British. The British however had little use for the castle. Since 1957 it has housed the Ghana Police Recruits Training Center and a school. At present the castle is used as a museum and is designated as a World Heritage site.
The castle can be visited with a guided tour for a small fee. This is a nice castle with the same grim history as Cape Coast Castle.