HIGHLIGHTS AND MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF GALLE
Galle (pronounced 'gawl’ in English and ‘gar-le’ in local Sinhala language) is a place entrenched in Dutch colonial history. Upon stepping through the gates of the fort you will feel as though you have been teleported back in time. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a fascinating area to explore as part of your Sri Lanka itinerary and easily navigable in its compact centre.
A place of tempestuous history and occupation struggles, the fortress city had a strategic position on the trade route that connected the East and Europe, making it a popular spot for settlers and today it is Sri Lanka’s fourth largest town. The Portuguese settlers arrived here by accident in 1505, followed by the Dutch in 1640 and the British in 1796, creating a diverse cultural heritage for the area and melting pot of influences.
The fort itself was constructed by the Portuguese, but subsequently taken over by the Dutch and is an area of four kilometres, with fort walls, bastions and ramparts. Perhaps the most interesting quality of the fort is that it functions as an active community with a network of lanes, courts, offices, mosques, houses, shops and churches. The main areas of interest are the Old Dutch Gate, which was the entrance to the fort throughout the early years of the 18th Century, the Dutch Reformed Church, the lighthouse and bell tower. More recently some of the older colonial buildings have been lovingly restored and are now boutique hotels and quaint villas with spacious courtyards.
There are some delightful rooftop restaurants where you can enjoy the spicy curries that Sri Lanka is famed for and the areas around the ramparts are great for early evening walks to fully appreciate the history of the area and its coastline.