First built by the Portuguese in 1588, the Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, sits on the southern coast of Sri Lanka in the Bay of Galle. It has a rich colonial history and was an important port for many centuries linking the East Indies to Europe. It was taken by the Portuguese in 1587 after defeating the Sinhalese, and the foundations of the current fort were laid. In the 18th century Galle was captured by the Dutch who then erected many of the walls and ramparts that exist today, they also built a sewerage system that still exists today and was considered way ahead of its time.
Galle is a beautiful blend of cultural history with exquisite narrow streets packed full of classy cafe’s, hotels, markets and boutique shops. The old walls built by the Dutch now serve as promenades for the locals and tourists alike. Among some of the most attractive sites in Galle are the buildings which were constructed during the colonial era. The Dutch Protestant church built in 1754, is of particular interest with its stunning architecture a real insight into the master craftsmanship of the early colonists. Just down the street from the church sits the Dutch Commandant’s residence known as the Queen’s house during the British reign, this building is just one of the many phenomenal buildings in Galle that remain from the city’s turbulent past.
Today Galle continues to grow and is still a major administrative city as well as also being a living UNESCO heritage city. The city is home to a vibrant and colourful arts scene which culminates in the Galle Literary Festival held in January each year. In the area surrounding Galle there are a variety of leisure activities for visitors of all ages from surfing on one of the many tropical beaches just a short drive away to relaxing on your private floating paddy field or just cruising along its outer walls on a spectacular boat trip. Galle is a day trip that has so many activities the traveller cannot be anything but satisfied.
There are two ways by which you can get to Galle, the Southern Expressway allows you to be at the fort entrance in an hour and thirty minutes from Olcote, however this route doesn’t allow you to really see the wonderful scenic countryside of Sri Lanka. The coast road runs from Colombo to Galle and allows you to travel the entire coast taking in the magical views as you are driven in a private car to your destination. Driving this route also allows you to stop off and get refreshments on one of the many beach villages dotted along the coast. Galle is undoubtedly one of Sri Lanka’s most attractive regions and a must see for those visiting the island with an interest in seeing the rich history, and also the rejuvenation of Sri Lankan culture after hundreds of years of colonial rule.