Fort St Jago in Elmina, Ghana


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Fort St Jago, also known as Coentraadsburg is located on a hill opposite Elmina Castle in the town of Elmina in the Central Region of Ghana. The first building on the hill was a chapel dedicated to saint Jago.

In 1637 the Dutch set up heavy artillery on the hill and used it to attack the Portuguese in the neighbouring Elmina Castle, forcing them to surrender. To prevent others from using the same tactic the Dutch built a temporary fortified structure on the hill and in the 1660’s replaced this structure with a permanent fort. As the fort was built for the protection and defence of Elmina Castle it comprised of only military quarters and had no commercial warehouses.

The fort was always well armed and was often used by the Dutch as a prison for European convicts or as a disciplinary institution for disobedient officers.

St Jago was ceded to the British in 1872 who then made several alterations which allowed the building to be used for civilian pursuits. In the 19th and 20th century functioned as a prison and a hospital. It is currently in fairly good condition as it is maintained by the Ghana Museum and Monuments Board and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 Sources for further reading:

Dantzig, A. 1999. Forts and castles of Ghana. Accra: Sedco Pub.