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These 13 Castles In Africa Will Change Your Perspective

By Parker Diakite

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Africa’s castles may not be as “traditional” as those in Europe but they’ve got history and unique beauty that are unmatched.  From Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal, here’s a list of 13 castles that travel experts from Fodors recommend visiting in Africa and why:

Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe

The Great Zimbabwe ruins was an area that once served as a center of trade for at least 300 years in a royal city that once accounted for a population of 18,000 people.

The castle features conical towers, balconies, and monolithic sculptures.

Scholars believe that construction began as early as the 11th century by ancestors of the modern Shona ethnic group.

Great Zimbabwe National Monument UNESCO | Graciela Gonzalez Brigas

Fort Santa Cruz In Oran, Algeria

The castle at the heart of Fort Santa Cruz was built by the Spanish in the 16th century to replace an Ottoman fort they destroyed in the same location.

Ribat Monastir In Monastir, Tunisia

The Ribat Monastir was founded in 796 by Harthama ibn A’yan, governor of Ifriqiya and leader of the Abbasid Caliphate.

The Tunisian ribat is the oldest of a number of fortifications built by Arab invaders in North Africa and features a style of Islamic art and architecture that they incorporated into the walls of the ribat.

Ksar of Aït Benhaddou In Ouarzazate Province, Morocco

The Ksar of Aït Benhaddou was constructed on the foothills of the Atlas Mountains in the 17th century.

According to Fodors,  the Ksar at Aït Benhaddou is one of the best remaining examples of southern Moroccan earthen architecture with its high angle towers and clay brick motifs.

Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou UNESCO | Jean-Jacques Gelbart

Citadel of Qaitbay in Alexandria, Egypt

The Citadel was built on the same spot as the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world destroyed after a series of earthquakes between the 11th and 14th centuries, to protect the city from invading Turks in the 1480s.

Fasil Ghebbi in Gondar, Ethiopia

Emperor Fasilidas was a lover of architecture and this castle he constructed incorporates Ethiopian Orthodox temples, libraries, gardens, and 12 gated towers.

This castle was the first two-story structure in Ethiopia.

Cape Coast Castle in Cape Coast, Ghana

First built by Swedish traders in timber and gold in the 17th century, the Cape Coast Castle serves as a painful reminder of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

It was this castle that once served as a center of commerce for slaves.

Cape Coast Castle was only one of a handful of “slave castles” built on the Ghanaian coast that served as a marketplace, holding cell and home for traders from a number of European countries over a period of 200 years.

Photo Courtesy Of Cape Coast Castle Museum

Saladin Citadel in Cairo, Egypt

Within its walls, the  Saladin Citadel, contains three mosques, aqueducts to supply the fort with water, residential areas and a “house of justice.”

Fort Jesus in Mombasa, Kenya

Between 1631 and 1895 Fort Jesus was captured at least nine separate times. By the early 20th century, the British had gained control of the fort and used it as a prison until the late 1950s when the Kenyan government assumed control and turned Fort Jesus into a historical monument.

National Museums of Kenya

Taleh Castle in Taleh, Somalia

Taleh Castle is a collection of structures built around several tombs.  The castle is one of four fortresses making up the historic town (also called Taleh) which was bombarded by the British Royal Air Force in 1920.

Duwisib Castle in Namib Region, Namibia

Located in the semi-arid hills of southern Namibia, this castle resembles European architecture because it was constructed by German army captain Hans Heinrich von Wolf.

After serving in the German-Nama war, Wolf returned to Namibia in peacetime with his new bride, purchased eight farms, and enlisted the famous German architect Wilhelm Sander to build him a castle.

Wolf died fighting in World War I in 1916 and his wife never again returned to Namibia, abandoning the castle.

Goree Castle in Ile de Gorée, Senegal

The island of Gorée and its castle, located four kilometers from the Senegalese capital Dakar, has a dark history.

Goree was a valuable structure in the West African slave trade where approximately 15 million people were forced through the “Door of No Return” in the House of Slaves located at sea level on the island’s east side.

Island of Gorée UNESCO | Pall Stefansson

Fortress of Sao Miguel in Luanda, Angola

The Fortress of São Miguel illustrates the history of Angola, beginning with its years as a Portuguese colony. Today, the Fortress of São Miguel holds Angola’s Museum of the Armed Forces.

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