Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, 
Central and Western Regions (1979)

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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. 

Seen through my Danish eyes, one of the more important castles, and with a rather turbulent history, of Greater Accra is the fortification Christiansborg, named after the Danish king Christian V (1646-1699),  and the palace of the same name in Copenhagen (Denmark), which serves as the Danish Parliament.  

In 1661 the Danes occupied Accra and built a fort named Fort Christiansborg, situated near two other forts: Fort Crévecoeur and Fort James, the former Dutch and the latter English. Christiansborg was vital for the Danish slave trade from Ghana and Guinea to the Danish West Indies. 

Gold Coast 1940. King George VI in front of Christiansborg in Accra. Gold Coast 1938. King George VI in front of Christiansborg in Accra. 

The Danish fort is located on a rock cliff near the African town of Osu, just outside Accra, today a residential suburb of the Ghanese capital. 

The fort was on Danish hands for nearly two hundred years except for a short Portuguese occupation.
On 2 December 1680 a Portuguese ship arrived at the Danish fort, and the Danish Governor sold the fort to the Portuguese commander of the ship, Juliao de Campos Barreto. The Portuguese renamed it Fort Sao Francisco Xavier and built a chapel in the fort. The Portuguese abandoned the fort on 29 August 1682 when it was occupied by the Akwamu tribe until February 1683. 

At this moment the Danes from nearby Fort Fredriksborg reoccupied Fort Christiansborg, and in 1685 Denmark moved their headquarters from Fort Fredriksborg to Fort Christiansborg. In 1850 the Danes sold the Castle to Great Britain. 

For seven months in 1819 the Danish temporary governor was Christian Svanekiær, who had his office at Christiansborg. His posterity is still alive in Accra through his great-great-granddaughter, Katharine Svanikier (*born on Christmas Day 1917). Although the Danish family-name has been "ghanified" (from the Danish form  Svanekiær to the Ghanese Svanikier), the Danish bloodline in Ghana is still present today. 

Apart from Christiansborg there are numerous ruined Danish fortresses in Ghana, such as Fredensborg, Kongensteen, Prindsensteen, Augustaborg, Frederiksgave, Forenede Brødre [United Brothers], and more. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Cultural Heritage sites in Ghana (on this web site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Ghana-section, for more information about the individual properties, 

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Revised 20 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
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