Visit Galle Fort Sri Lanka – 15 things you need to know
15 things you need to know about Galle Fort Sri Lanka
- The town of Galle is mostly famous for its Galle fortification.
- The fortress, initially called ”Santa Cruz” was first built on a small rocky peninsula in the 1580’s by the Portuguese. They used only earth/mud which was surrounded by palm tree palisades.
- The Fort was built to defend Galle port which was the busiest port in Sri Lanka at that time.
- Originally the fort had only 3 bastions and it was used also as a prison camp.
- Then it was finished by the Dutch in the second half of the 17th century. As it didn’t seem safe enough to them, they added 14 new bastions.
- Not only mud, but granite stones and corals were used by the Dutch. If you look closer, in some places you can still spot parts of corals.
- As the Dutch built the biggest part of the Galle Fort, sometimes it’s also called ”the Dutch Fort”.
- Since the British took control of the Fort in 1796, many changes were made inside the fort and a number of houses were constructed. The British then moved their base to Colombo so Galle Fort began to decay.
- In 1988 it was declared a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name of Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications.
- The Fort has 2 gates, the Old gate with Dutch and British inscriptions; and the Main gate.
- There’s still some Dutch families owning properties inside the fort even in the present time.
- Many street names inside the Fort are still in Dutch.
- Unfortunately, the fort was damaged during the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. Thankfully, the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka together with the financial support of the Government of the Netherlands managed to restore the fort to its current polish look.
- The Galle Fort is now the biggest remaining fort in Asia built byt European occupiers.
- We can still find Catholic, Protestant and Anglican churches, a Buddhist temple and a mosque inside the fortifications. As we can see, the Galle Fort is a unique multicultural and multireligious site of significant historic importance.
Thanks to a cricket game in town, I experienced a very crowded Galle. There were people sitting on the fort walls and watching the game from far.
However, I have to admit it was really lovely to walk on the actual wall around the Galle fort. Incredible Ocean views make it even more interesting. Don’t forget to stroll to the 18 m high white Galle lighthouse which is standing there since 1938. If it’s too hot, you can even walk down to the beach full of corals and refresh yourself.
Galle town nowadays
In the past few years Galle has transformed quite a lot. Many new modern restaurants, coffee shops and souvenir shops have been opening in town. I even found vegan ice cream there, yay!
I’ve heard that building owners have to follow a rule when renovating and they are not allowed to change the original houses too much from how they used to look. They need to keep the authentic Dutch architecture. In my opinion it’s a good thing as it helps Galle to stand out out of all Sri Lankan towns.
The mixture of colonial European architecture and current Asian culture together with the UNESCO fortification make Galle a town like no other in Sri Lanka. It’s so full of color and history!
Did you know that although Sri Lanka is mostly a Buddhist country, Galle is predominantly a Muslim town?