Elmina's Slave Castle

Elmina's Slave Castle

Built in 1482, Africa’s oldest European building south of the Sahara owes its infamy to the pivotal role it played in the slave trade. By the 17th century, Elmina was a major centre for holding slaves, from here some 30,000 per year would be shipped to the New World. Compare room sizes: on the upper levels, you walk through the large chambers of the Europeans, in their heyday luxurious suites. Down below, however, the damp, cramped dungeons were once full of human cargo. They are a horrific, emotional place to stand. There would have been no room even to lie down here, and the floor beneath your feet gained several centimetres in height over its terrible history – and when you’re here, it takes no imagination to work out how. Looking out from the castle’s arched windows on to the shoreline palms and fishing boats bobbing in the Atlantic, the view is at once undeniably beautiful and deeply sombre, for this same view would have greeted slaves as they passed through the notorious ‘Door of No Return’.

  • Gallery