Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fort St. Anthony - Axim, Ghana

Fort St. Anthony was built in 1515, the second fort built by the Portuguese on the Gold Coast after Elmina Castle (which was built between 1482 and 1486). It was built on a small promontory near the mouth of the Ankobra River in Axim, in what today is Ghana, West Africa. It is built on a triangular shaped base, rising above the vegetation along its sides, with one point of the structure facing the bay and a flat end of the triangle facing inland. 
From the upper steps of a structure in the fort, looking out into the Gulf of Guinea. Two guns, or cannons, point out of one of the three points of the triangular shaped structure.  
From the point with the cannons above, looking back to the structure and top of the stairs at some other Cannons (Russ, Shelley and Judy). 
On the opposite (flat) side of the fort which faces inland. 
Elmina Castle was captured by the Dutch, from the Portuguese, in 1637, but Fort St. Anthony was able to fend off the Dutch for four and a half more years, until 1642. The Dutch reported in the early 18th century that they collected more gold from Axim than the rest of the Gold Coast put together. 
Structures inside of the fort.
Although it was mostly amazingly beautiful views, there were some internal mazes.
When George Cannon sailed past Fort St. Anthony in 1790, on his way to Anomabu Fort and Cape Coast Castle, this would have been the second fort he saw along the Gold Coast, after the British Fort Apollonia. The Eliza most likely did not stop at Fort St. Anthony (Santo Antonio to the Dutch), as it was owned by the Dutch.
Beautiful view from a fort window, looking east down the coast.
View from another window, looking into the bay at some canoes and inselbergs.
View through a doorway to the sea-point part of the fort and the Gulf of Guinea.
View from another door, to the west and the Ankobra River.
We visited Fort St. Anthony in May 2014. It was quite a drive from Elmina, where we were staying, along a two lane road which was dirt (due to road construction) for many miles. It seemed very isolated. It was in the most beautiful setting we saw in Ghana. The bay has a number of inselbergs, little hills jutting out of the ocean, and a beautiful, tropical coastline. Many canoes were in the bay, making it easy to think of the time George Cannon visited the Gold Coast, almost 225 years ago. Canoes similar to these transported men and goods back and forth from the ships, anchored several miles out to sea, to the fort. From our tour of Fort St. Anthony, and other forts along the Gold Coast, we learned that the function and architecture of the forts was very similar, whether Dutch or English.

Canoe passing in front of inselbergs in the bay and a crashing ocean surf.
Imagine 225 years ago as canoes loaded with men or supplies crossed this surf. Imagine what this surf might be in winds or rough weather. 
An idyllic setting, excepting the rusty hulk of a cannon barrel in the foreground.
Local commerce at rest. 
Six Cannons 
Most of the information for Fort St. Anthony came from Castles & Forts of Ghana, written by Kwesi J. Anquandah, and published by the Ghana Museums & Monuments Board. 

1 comment:

  1. This was indeed a beautiful setting, and in another place and time would no doubt be a tourist resort. As the country develops, I hope they are able to preserve this somber monument and not go the more lucrative resort route.