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Galle Dutch Hospital

Once an actual hospital that cared for Dutch seafarers and members of the Dutch East India Company during colonial times, the Old Dutch Hospital now serves to be one of the more quaint shopping and dining complexes in the country, filled with upmarket boutiques and restaurants, allowing you to make the most out of your journey down south in Sri Lanka. Garbed in typical Dutch colonial architecture that has been painstakingly restored to its original grandeur, along with producing some amazing views of the tranquil Indian Ocean, the Galle Dutch Hospital is just one of the many monuments inside the Galle Fort that should be visited by all travellers.

Best Known For

  • With an array of chic souvenir boutiques, jewellery stores and exquisite dining options, such as The Tuna and the Crab, Tequila Mockingbird and A Minute by Tuk Tuk to name but 3, the Galle Dutch Fort has become one of the premier hangout spots for travellers to bask in the splendour of the old colonial fortress.
  • Moreover, its accentuating colonial architecture has made it one of the finest destinations within the Galle Fort to witness the waters of the serene Indian Ocean crashing onto the rocks, along with a stunning view of the legend-laden Rumassala Sanctuary in the distance. Therefore, making it an ideal location for the individual, looking for that awe inspiring view of southern Sri Lanka.

Interesting Facts

  • The Galle Dutch Hospital has its origins during the Dutch colonial period, after the Dutch captured the fortress and drove away the Portuguese in 1663.
  • The hospital was built on what was initially the Portuguese Mint and was intended to care for the many European seafarers and soldiers of the Dutch East India Company that suffered from many ailments, due to the unhygienic nature of sea travel at the time and the harsh tropical climate.
  • Thus the reason as to why the architecture of the complex is built in such a manner that keeps out the humidity and heat, while providing a comfortable environment within.
  • One of the many highlights of the hospital was that it was state of the art for its time and incorporated local medicinal practices in the form of Ayurveda, which was confirmed after the discovery of the Dutch herbarium within the complex.
  • The complex was built with 2-storeys in which the second storey boasts of unparalleled views of the Indian Ocean and the Rumassala Sanctuary, affording one, breathtaking views.
  • Even after the Dutch were driven out by the British colonisers in the 18th Century, the complex was still used as a hospital and was further expanded by the British due to its close proximity to the harbour.
  • However, during the latter stages of the colonization and after Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948, the Old Dutch Hospital underwent many transformations.
  • The first being the Galle Kachcheri (an office of local government administration) right up until 1948, when it was transformed as the Town Hall premises.
  • It remained to be the Town Hall until 2003, when the need for more space forced the relocation of the offices.
  • It was neglected ever since and was slowly vanishing into the pages of history books, however, in 2014, the Government took an active initiative to revive the heritage building of Galle.
  • After its full restoration, the complex was transformed into a shopping precinct that allows for anyone to witness the colonial grandeur of the building and ponder on the thought of its operations as an actual hospital of the 17th Century.
  • Presently, the shopping precinct is famed for possessing upmarket boutiques, restaurants and even jewellery stores, enabling the wide eyed traveller to indulge in some souvenir shopping and a sumptuous meal with friends and family right after, making it a great place for socialization in the Galle Fort.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The famed shopping and dining precinct is open daily from 8.00am to 11.00pm, however, do keep in mind that every shop and restaurant operates according to their own times, which can vary from each other.
  • There is no season, as such for visiting the heritage building in Galle Fort, as it is frequented by many a traveller throughout the year.
  • Do bring along your camera too, as the second floor and rear of the precinct lies an exquisite view of the Indian Ocean, along with the serene scenery painted by the distant Rumassala Sanctuary.

In conclusion, the Galle Dutch Hospital, located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Galle Fort, is just a sliver of the area’s significant history. Coupled with the best boutique shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, along with exquisite views, the Galle Dutch Hospital should be right up there in that list of things to do while in the fortress.

Title image by: Haaziq Reza The information displayed is provided by Galle Dutch Hospital

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