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Elmina Castle From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
St. George CastleElmina Castle (also St. George El Mina Castle; in Portuguese Mina, Feitoria da Mina, São Jorge da Mina, or Castelo de São Jorge da Mina) was a military factory built in 1482 by the Portuguese as the first trading post in the Gulf of Guinea, at present-day Elmina, Ghana.
It is said to be remarkable as the first (military) precast building to have been planned and executed ever, in or outside Europe.
It took part of the military and economic importance that the previous Portuguese factory of Arguim Island, on the southern border of the African Arab world, held before the Mina settlement.
|All of the construction (in heavy numerated granite stone blocks) was planned by military Portuguese architects, and done under military supervision prior to its transportation by command of King João II of Portugal. |
The castle was sent to Africa onboard a naval expedition led by Diogo de Azambuja, who departed from Lisbon on December 12, 1481, with eleven ships and 700 soldiers.
Diogo de Azambuja remained as captain of the fortress (controlling the area around it) until 1484.
It is interesting to know that Cristopher Columbus was allowed to go on this expedition to erect Mina under the orders of Azambuja.
He lived then in Porto Santo and was learnig naval and military skills.
Even if atlantic trade and maritime scientific skills were then closed with death sentence threat to all non Portuguese men, historians think Columbus was allowed to go as a long-term established Portuguese subject, married to a Portuguese lady and father to Portuguese children.
The main interest of the Portuguese was to gain control over the gold trade of Mina, as mina is the portuguesa word for mine - and the fortress-factory attracted the end of African hinterland native gold commerce to the Portuguese Crown monopoly, giving to that African region the name of Gold Coast it held until the independence of Ghana.
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