Another World Heritage Site, the Elmina Castle is located at Elmina, which is just 10km west of Cape Coast. Elmina happens to be the first point of contact between the Europeans and the inhabitants of Ghana, then Gold Coast.
In 1471, when a Don Diego d’ Azambuja led Portuguese expedition arrived, they referred to Elmina as “Mina de Ouro” meaning the gold mine because of the vast amount of gold and ivory they found. Trading was imminent and Elmina became the centre of a thriving trade in gold, ivory and slaves which were exchanged for cloth, beads, brass bracelets etc.
The Portuguese built the St. Georges Castle or Sao Jorge da Mina (now Elmina Castle) in 1482. The edifice covered an area of 97,000 sq ft becoming the earliest known European structure in the tropics. As trade buoyed, it attracted other Europeans and a struggle for control ensued. The Dutch eventually captured the castle and remained in its control for the next 235 years.
On 6th April, 1872, the castle was ceded to the British. It has served as a police recruit centre and a secondary school in the past. Elmina Castle has a gift shop and tour guides are available to willingly offer their services daily.