Christiansborg Castle (Osu Castle), commonly known as Fort Christiansborg or just the Castle, is a 17th-century castle on the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf of Guinea coast near Ghana’s capital Accra. The Danes built the first large fort, and it has since passed through the hands of Denmark, Norway, Portugal, the Akwamu, Britain, and eventually post-independence Ghana. Christiansborg Castle is also remarkable among castles and forts in that it served as the seat of government in Ghana for most of its existence, with a few exceptions, until the Jubilee House was built.
Since 2014, archeological research has been taking place around the castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as some surrounding regions. As part of Ghana’s 60th-anniversary legacy project, the castle was turned into a Presidential Museum in 2017. It will be a state-of-the-art museum that will store presidential relics, presidential papers, waxworks of our presidents, as well as personal belongings of past presidents such as books, artworks, and apparel, allowing us to honor their memories respectfully.
The property was purchased for 3,200 gold florins from Paramount Chief Okaikoi of the Ga ethnic group in 1661 by Jost Cramer, the Danish governor of the Cape Coast fort, Fort Fredericksburg.
The Danes built a stone fort on this site in 1659 to replace the earthen lodge built by the Swedish African Company in the 17th century. Christiansborg, which means ‘Christian’s Fortress,’ was named after King Christian IV of Denmark, who died in 1648.
The Danish commander of the fort was assassinated during a rebellion in 1679. The fort was later ceded to the former Portuguese governor of Sao Tome by the new leader, a Greek named Bolten. The Portuguese renamed it ‘St. Francis Xavier,’ built a Roman Catholic chapel, and strengthened the fortifications. After a four-year occupation, the Portuguese were forced to relinquish the fort to the Danes due to a lack of trading success.
The great trader and chief Assameni, and his followers, from the inland state of Akwamu, challenged and deposed Danish control again ten years later. By working as a cook, Assameni had previously infiltrated the Danish home. For nearly a year, he kept control of the fort and traded successfully with all nations. He resold the fort to the Danes in 1694 for a considerable quantity of gold, 50 marks. He did not, however, return the castle keys. Since then, the castle keys have remained part of Akwamu’s stool property.
Increased Danish trade, first in money, then in slaves, demanded more castle additions, to the point where the castle nearly quadrupled in size. Slavery was abolished in Denmark in 1803 and this resulted in a severe trade depression. In 1850, the fortress was sold to the British.
British colonial governors controlled the castle after 1876. It was utilized as a constabulary mess and afterward as a psychiatric asylum from 1890 to 1901, when it was abandoned. Christiansburg Castle was re-established as the seat of government in 1902, and it now houses the offices of Ghana’s President.
Because of its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, it was an ideal place for trade. It made it simple for the James Lighthouse to detect and regulate ships as they approached the coast. Slaves and goods were both held and moved into the approaching ships. These slaves were confined in dungeons at the castle’s ends until being sent to the approaching ships through the DOOR OF NO RETURN.
International dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II and US Presidents Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have all paid historic visits to the castle.
On Fridays Only from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (may be closed at times because the area still remains a security zone)
2 Barnes Road, Adabraka, Accra
P.O. Box GP 3343, Accra
Telephone: +233-302 221633/221635
Fax: +233-302 222401
E-mail: [email protected]