The Portuguese were the first to arrive. By 1471, under the
patronage of Prince Henry the Navigator, they had reached the
area that was to become known as the Gold Coast because
Europeans knew the area as the source of gold that reached
Muslim North Africa by way of trade routes across the Sahara.
The initial Portuguese interest in trading for gold, ivory, and
pepper so increased that in 1482 the Portuguese built their
first permanent trading post on the western coast of present-day
Ghana. This fortress, Elmina Castle, constructed to protect
Portuguese trade from European competitors and hostile Africans,
With the opening of European plantations in the New World during
the 1500s, which suddenly expanded the demand for slaves in the
Americas, trade in slaves soon overshadowed gold as the
principal export of the area. Indeed, the west coast of Africa
became the principal source of slaves for the New World. The
seemingly insatiable market and the substantial profits to be
gained from the slave trade attracted adventurers from all over
Europe. Much of the conflict that arose among European groups on
the coast and among competing African kingdoms was the result of
rivalry for control of this trade.
The Portuguese position on the Gold Coast remained secure for
almost a century. During that time, Lisbon leased the right to
establish trading posts to individuals or companies that sought
to align themselves with the local chiefs and to exchange trade
goods both for rights to conduct commerce and for slaves whom
the chiefs could provide. During the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, adventurers--first Dutch, and later English, Danish,
and Swedish-- were granted licenses by their governments to
trade overseas. On the Gold Coast, these European competitors
built fortified trading stations and challenged the Portuguese.
Sometimes they were also drawn into conflicts with local
inhabitants as Europeans developed commercial alliances with
The principal early struggle was between the Dutch and the
Portuguese. With the loss of Elmina in 1642 to the Dutch, the
Portuguese left the Gold Coast permanently. The next 150 years
saw kaleidoscopic change and uncertainty, marked by local
conflicts and diplomatic maneuvers, during which various
European powers struggled to establish or to maintain a position
of dominance in the profitable trade of the Gold Coast littoral.
Forts were built, abandoned, attacked, captured, sold, and
exchanged, and many sites were selected at one time or another
for fortified positions by contending European nations.
Both the Dutch and the British formed companies to advance their
African ventures and to protect their coastal establishments.
The Dutch West India Company operated throughout most of the
eighteenth century. The British African Company of Merchants,
founded in 1750, was the successor to several earlier
organizations of this type. These enterprises built and manned
new installations as the companies pursued their trading
activities and defended their respective jurisdictions with
varying degrees of government backing. There were short-lived
ventures by the Swedes and the Prussians. The Danes remained
until 1850, when they withdrew from the Gold Coast. The British
gained possession of all Dutch coastal forts by the last quarter
of the nineteenth century, thus making them the dominant
European power on the Gold Coast.
It is likely that this was a Portuguese lodge in the middle of
the 16th century probably built around 1576.
Crevecoer (Ussher Fort)-
Dutch post built in 1642
Built in 1640 by the Portuguese as Urso lodge in Accra and after
changing hands on numerous occasions it was finally sold to the
British in 1850. Since then it has been to official residence of
the governors of the Gold Coast and heads of states of Ghana.
It's officially closed to the public.
meaning Castle of Peace, was constructed during the years
In 1557 the Portuguese built a trading lodge in Accra which the
later fortified and enlarged in 1576. However, between 1577 and
1578 the half-built fort was attacked and destroyed by the
locals. By 1782 had taken over and rebuilt this fort which the
used as a base for attacking the Dutch Fort Crvecoeur. After
Ghana gained its independence James Fort was converted for use
as a prison.