Christiansborg Castle, Accra (1661)

Christiansborg Castle is located just off the shores of the vibrant township of Osu, in Ghana’s capital Accra. 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.