Get Locked into History at the Elmina Slave Castle
Everything inside the cell was black and quiet except for the breathing of those people around me. A few moments later, the door swung open and my lungs breathed in fresh air with relief. The staggering moment came when our tour guide informed us that as many as one hundred people used to end up in this cell before going on to their final destinations. It sounds like something out of a movie, but this is the historic reality of the "slave castle" of Elmina on Ghana's Cape Coast.
Built in 1482, the Elmina Castle was first used as a point of entry for the Portuguese exploring the area (formerly known as the Gold Coast). This Portuguese outpost was the first European settlement along the Coast; which changed hands over the years to finally end up under the direction of Great Britain by 1872. The British used Elmina Castle as a police training academy. Today, the town around Elmina Castle is mostly known as a fishing port.
During the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, Elmina Castle was used to trade slaves out of Africa for imported goods. While inside Elmina Castle, slaves would be kept in the eerie and damp dungeons that to this day are a haunting reminder of that dark time. While the views of the area are incredible from the top of the Elmina Castle, it's hard to imagine what the prisoners felt as they made their way through "The Door of No Return," and onto the ships awaiting them for the journey to the "New World".
There are many aspects to the Elmina Castle interior that mark its volatile history. Mental images of the over 1 million slaves subjected to torture, abuse, and indignities here will undoubtedly haunt your mind. Walking through Elmina Castle and hearing stories of its past can be hard to process emotionally, but will surely transform you. The historic knowledge you will learn here will leave you reflecting on a grim past, and hopefully, wanting to make a positive impact on the future.
When to Go to Elmina Castle
Odds n' Ends
Elmina Castle offers daily guided tours free of charge.
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