Elmina Castle was erected by the Portuguese in 1482. It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, making it the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. The Castle was seized by the Dutch in 1637. Despite the change in ownership the slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814. In 1872 the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of the British Empire. Britain granted the Gold Coast its independence in 1957, and control of the castle was transferred to the the new government of Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Elmina Castle is now recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.