Christiansborg Castle (Osu Castle), also known as Fort Christiansborg or simply the Castle, is a 17th-century castle located on the shores of the vibrant township of Osu, in Ghana’s capital Accra, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean‘s Gulf of Guinea. The first substantial fort was built by the Danes and has changed hands between Denmark, Norway, Portugal, the Akwamu, Britain, and finally post-Independence Ghana, and was rebuilt numerous times. Christiansborg Castle is also unique among the castles and forts as for most of the castle’s history, it has been the seat of government in Ghana with some interruptions until the seat of government was moved to the Jubilee House.
The castle which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and some areas around have since 2014 been undergoing archeological investigations. In 2017, the castle was converted into a Presidential Museum as part of Ghana’s 60th-anniversary legacy project. It is to be a state of the art museum which would house presidential artifacts, presidential papers, waxworks of our presidents and also on display are personal possessions of past leaders like books, artworks and items of clothing to allow us to honour appropriately their memories
In 1661, Jost Cramer, the Danish governor of the Cape Coast fort, Fort Fredericksborg, obtained the site for 3,200 gold florins, from Paramount Chief Okaikoi of the Ga ethnic group.
At this site, the Danes built a stone fort in 1659, to replace the earthen lodge that had been erected by the Swedish African Company in the 17th century. They named it Christiansborg, meaning ‘Christian’s Fortress’, after the King of Denmark, Christian IV, who passed away in 1648.
A mutiny in 1679 resulted in the assassination of the fort’s Danish commander. The new leader, a Greek named Bolten, later sold the fort to the former Portuguese governor of Sao Tome. The Portuguese christened it ‘St. Francis Xavier’, added on a Roman Catholic chapel, and further fortified its bastions. A lack of trade success caused the Portuguese to resell the fort to the Danes in 1683, after a four-year occupancy.
Danish rule was once again challenged and deposed ten years later by the powerful trader and chief Assameni, and his men, from the inland state of Akwamu. Assameni had previously infiltrated the Danish household by working as a cook. He retained control of the fort, trading successfully with all nations, for almost a year. In 1694, he resold the fort to the Danes for the substantial sum of 50 marks of gold. He, however, did not return the keys of the castle. The castle keys have since been a part of the stool property of Akwamu.
Escalating Danish trade, initially in gold, then in slaves, necessitated further expansions of the castle such that finally the castle almost quadrupled its original size. The abolition of the slave trade by Denmark in1803 resulted in a severe trade slump. The castle was sold to the British in 1850.
After 1876, British colonial governors ruled from the castle. They abandoned it from 1890 to 1901, when it was used as a constabulary mess, and later as a psychiatric asylum. In 1902, Christiansburg Castle once again became the seat of government, and today, the elegant edifice houses the offices of the President of Ghana.
Its location by the Atlantic Ocean was advantageous for trading purposes. It made it easy for the James Lighthouse to identify ships that were arriving at the coast in order to regulate them. Goods were kept and transported into the arriving ships likewise slaves. These slaves were kept in dungeons at the ends of the castle, transporting them through the DOOR OF NO RETURN to the arriving ships.
There have been many historic visits at the castle by international dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II and U.S Presidents namely Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
What to do
- See the photo display of great Ghanaians such as Azumah Nelson, Efua T. Sutherland as well as other Pan-Africanist.
- Visitors may take great interest in memorable sights such as the credential rooms used by the former British officials and former Ghanaian presidents, slave dungeons, walkway to the Door of No Return, a water reserve and a chapel sometimes used by the Anglican Church.
- Visitors would be given the opportunity to take photographs of the captivating sea shore, fishing boats, extensive gardens with a wide varieties of plants and the township by the castle.
- The castle allows visitors access to a car park and walkway around the gardens.
- Visit the nearby excavated sections to see artefacts.
On Fridays Only from 9:00am to 4:00pm (may be closed at times because the area still remains a security zone)
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The castle is easily accessible through public transport within Accra.
James Town Light House
Accra Sports Stadium
2 Barnes Road, Adabraka, Accra
P.O. Box GP 3343, Accra
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