Galle Fort

A vacation to the famous city of Galle is not complete without a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Galle Dutch Fort that possesses a history dating back to the 16th century. The Galle Fort’s archaeological and architectural splendour, along with the pride and heritage of the residents in the fortified city, reflects a fusion of traditional local and European culture. Thus making the site a symbol of a thriving Eurasian culture in Sri Lanka.

Best Known For

Culture and Heritage:

  • The immaculate restoration and maintenance of the colonial buildings to its former glory makes it ideal for studying European architecture of old.
  • Precolonial and colonial society can be studied too with the help of the many museums that have been established by converting some of the colonial buildings.
  • The Dutch fort being situated right at the edge of the city, overlooking the bay of Galle, has now become a host to many stylish cafes, restaurants and boutique hotels that allow you to experience your coastal getaway in style.
  • Since the fort is surrounded by the sea on three sides, a casual walk along the ramparts overlooking the sea will give you an unobstructed view of the Indian Ocean and awe inspiring sun sets you will never forget.
  • More recently, the fort has become a playground for some insane stunts too where a group of professionals would dare to jump over the ramparts, which is around 40 feet high and into the sea right next to the daunting rocks. Many flock around to see the spectacle the ‘Galle Fort cliff-jumpers’ display as it is done with no support or safety measures.

Interesting Facts

  • Although famously known as the Dutch Fort, it was in fact established by the Portuguese when they were driven out of Colombo by King Rajasinha I of Sitawaka in 1588.
  • The Dutch eventually gained control in 1640 and developed the fort after joining hands with King Rajasinhe II to drive out the Portuguese.
  • Although a colonial fortress, the Dutch colonists allowed locals to inhabit the area and allowed them to practice their different faiths, which is evident when looking at the well maintained architectural monuments such as the Meera Mosque, All Saints Church, Groote Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church) and the Shri Sudhramalaya Buddhist Temple.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • It is best to visit the Dutch Fort between the months of November and April due to the favourable sunny weather, however, since it is peak time the cost of travel and accommodation may be quite pricy and it also can be crowded with many tourists.
  • The fort is opened throughout the day and night, however, the best time to visit is in the morning and during the evening hours when the sun is about to set.
  • Travelling around the fortified city is not difficult since the monuments are in close proximity. You could arrange a guided tour of the fort to make things easier, however, requesting for a clear cost breakdown could save you the stress of surprise fees and charges not anticipated.
  • Spectacular sunsets are a treat when walking along the ramparts at dusk, especially near the lighthouse located on ‘flag rock’ at the very edge of the fort, since it affords one the best view.

All in all the Galle Fort is a timeless example of how Sri Lanka was and still is a melting pot of cultures filled with a rich history and heritage that makes the place all the more intriguing to visit.

Title image by: Jehan Gamalathge

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