The National Museum is home to some of Ghana’s most absorbing historical finds. The museum gives an opportunity to travel through the country’s history from both an archaeological and ethnographic perspective. Much of the display is dedicated to indigenous art and crafts: there are regalia, musical instruments and the all-important royal Asante stools.
A national park erected in memory of Osagyefo (the Messiah) Doctor Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and one of its founding fathers. Built on a former British polo field, it was the point where Nkrumah declared independence in 1957.
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an African-American civil rights activist who became a citizen of Ghana in the 1960s. He was known as the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism’. The centre, where he and his wife once lived, and where they are now buried, houses his personal library, a small museum with a handful of personal effects such as his graduation robes.
This colonial-era lighthouse was built in the 1930s. It’s not a tourist attraction in the usual sense – no gift shops or ticket offices here – but stray within twenty metres and you’ll inevitably be accosted by a ‘guide’ offering to take you to the top for a few cedi (usually around GH¢5 each). If you’re willing to part with the cash, there’s a good panoramic view from the top of the (possibly not overly safe) spiral staircase.
The city was founded by the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the solid white bulk of the castle acted first as a fortified base for overseeing the export of gold and other goods before ‘market forces’ initiated a move into human trafficking. The Castle is now listed as a World Heritage Site, and gazing down today from its old ramparts at the late-afternoon hubbub of fishermen and red-dust footballers, it’s hard not to be stirred by the human cost of its past.
From a historical perspective, Elmina Castle is a key attraction. Like its Cape Coast equivalent, it has strong links with the slave years and is registered as a World Heritage Site.
With modernist and Soviet- influenced lines, the stands around Independence Square can seat 30,000 people. The vast area, built under Kwame Nkrumah, is designed for huge events and military marches, but it is usually empty except for a few soldiers sheltering from the sun. The only times the square comes alive are at commercial events such as concerts and fashion shows, which take place throughout the year.
Osu Castle is a constant and poignant reminder of the slave trade that was largely administered from the building and was often used to house slaves before they were shipped to the Americas.