Travel to Cape Coast – World Heritage Site – Cape Coast Castle
Cape Coast, the capital of the central coastal region, was originally a trading post. The original settlement was built upon a short rock promontory, protecting a sheltered bay that gave the town its first European name, the Portuguese “Caba Corso”.
The Portuguese arrived in 1471 and left the coast in 1642. The Danes arrived in 1642 and left in 1850, while the Dutch came in 1578 and left the coast in 1631. The English, who were the last to come, stayed from 1631 until 1957, when Ghana gained independence. But long before the arrival of Europeans there were settlements on these shores – people who had already established a thriving trade with the Mande from the far north who came in search of gold, kola and ivory.
By the early 16th Century, Cape Coast was the centre for the sale of slaves, mostly destined for America and the Caribbean. The slave trade eventually dominated all the trading activities in the city. The slaves were kept at both Elmina and Cape Coast Castle, before their export overseas.
Today, the people of Cape Coast are sustained by fishing, agriculture, trading, manufacturing and service industries. The few surrounding villages and forest areas of the central and other regions provide the town with its food needs. Fishing is still the main occupation of the local population.
The combination of steep slopes and low-lying marshy areas has tempered the expansion of the city. Cape Coast has never grown to the huge proportions of Accra and Kumasi, retaining its intimacy.
A ‘must-see’ on any visit to Ghana, Cape Coast Castle has been a World Heritage Site since 1979. Originally a Swedish and subsequently a Danish fort it was taken over by the British and made into their headquarters in 1665.
There are several parks in the city, the largest being Victoria which is near the Castle and is used for impromptu soccer games and doubles as the parade ground for state ceremonies and gatherings of chiefs during festivals.
One famous landmark is historic “London Bridge” – a very small span, but one associated with romance. According to local custom, if a young man brings a girl to the bridge, he is expressing more than a passing interest in her.
Beach lovers will enjoy the tree-fringed beaches, warmed by African sunshine, where the surf ranges from gentle rollers to sizeable breakers.
- See one of Ghana’s most famous buildings – the 17th Century Cape Coast Castle. Its walls are many feet thick and covered in whitewash that glares in the sun.
- Watch canoes and fishing nets form a colourful panorama along Cape Coast beaches.
- Stroll down Coronation or Royal street and come face to face with architecture from colonial days gone by.