Galle

116 km south of Colombo , the historical landmark of Galle is the Old Dutch fort built by the Portuguese in 1505. It feel to the Dutch in 1640 and the British took over in 1796. The combination of history, easy access to wildlife, nature and some wonderful stretches of golden sandy beaches make it a popular resort and home to an International Cricket Stadium. The capital of the southern province is a city with a colourful history. UNESCO declared World Heritage Site the magnificent Dutch fort is the most popular attraction of the town. 300 year old Dutch atmosphere is still very much alive around the fort and amidst its many historical buildings not invaded by the skyscrapers. The beautiful beach of Unawatuna is just 6km south east of the city centre. The southern coastal belt is the most popular among the tourists and comes to life mainly from October through April when the monsoon moves northeast and the sea becomes calm with blue skies. The earliest European administrative centre of Sri Lanka was the major port and the largest city until the British shifted the port to Colombo. The City of Galle had been the European administrative centre over 4 centuries. Now fast acquiring a reputation as the starting point of Sri Lanka’s equivalent to the “Riviera”, the city’s origins are shrouded in legend and mystery. Some believe that it is the Tarshish of the Old Testament, which channelled a thriving trade in exotic luxuries including precious metals and stones, ivory, tropical beasts and of course spices. This whitewashed town has an extremely large fort, built by the Dutch over 400 years ago, as its oldest landmark. 


A number of important churches are located within the fort, including the Groote Kerk, the oldest Protestant church in Sri Lanka. A living, breathing city of important historical significance, Galle greets visitors as the gateway to the south. The small promontory that Galle sits upon was a natural haven, and provided safe anchor for Arab merchant vessels plying the ancient sea-lanes connecting the Orient with the Occident. However, it was a Portuguese fleet that “discovered” it by chance in 1505 and observed Arab merchants loading cinnamon and elephants onto their ships. This first landfall by a European maritime power on the island, hastened Galle’s colonial eminence as a shipping and passenger port. Indeed, the event was pivotal in the nation’s history, as it changed the fate of the whole country and an ancient civilization, forever. Making the circuit of the fort walls is extremely pleasant – especially at dusk. This should take you about two hours, and if you follow the walls clockwise you will eventually come to the Old Gate flanked by two lions and topped by a cockerel, which dates back to 1669. It now houses the National Maritime Museum. The museum is open from 9am to 5pm daily, and has exhibits ranging from pickled sea creatures to fibreglass whales. The Cultural Museum, Groote Kerk (Great Church), Flag rock, the modern Lighthouse, the Bell tower and the old Dutch Government House (reputedly haunted!) are also worth visiting. Old colonial mansions dot the area, well preserved and worth looking over. The Dutch Period Museum is beautifully restored and exhibits the clothes, furniture, jewellery and even the cooking utensils of the Dutch colonial era.. It feel to the Dutch in 1640 and the British took over in 1796. The combination of history, easy access to wildlife, nature and some wonderful stretches of golden sandy beaches make it a popular resort and home to an International Cricket Stadium. The capital of the southern province is a city with a colourful history. UNESCO declared World Heritage Site the magnificent Dutch fort is the most popular attraction of the town. 300 year old Dutch atmosphere is still very much alive around the fort and amidst its many historical buildings not invaded by the skyscrapers. The beautiful beach of Unawatuna is just 6km south east of the city centre. The southern coastal belt is the most popular among the tourists and comes to life mainly from October through April when the monsoon moves northeast and the sea becomes calm with blue skies. The earliest European administrative centre of Sri Lanka was the major port and the largest city until the British shifted the port to Colombo. The City of Galle had been the European administrative centre over 4 centuries. Now fast acquiring a reputation as the starting point of Sri Lanka’s equivalent to the “Riviera”, the city’s origins are shrouded in legend and mystery. Some believe that it is the Tarshish of the Old Testament, which channelled a thriving trade in exotic luxuries including precious metals and stones, ivory, tropical beasts and of course spices. This whitewashed town has an extremely large fort, built by the Dutch over 400 years ago, as its oldest landmark. A number of important churches are located within the fort, including the Groote Kerk, the oldest Protestant church in Sri Lanka. A living, breathing city of important historical significance, Galle greets visitors as the gateway to the south. The small promontory that Galle sits upon was a natural haven, and provided safe anchor for Arab merchant vessels plying the ancient sea-lanes connecting the Orient with the Occident. 


However, it was a Portuguese fleet that “discovered” it by chance in 1505 and observed Arab merchants loading cinnamon and elephants onto their ships. This first landfall by a European maritime power on the island, hastened Galle’s colonial eminence as a shipping and passenger port. Indeed, the event was pivotal in the nation’s history, as it changed the fate of the whole country and an ancient civilization, forever. Making the circuit of the fort walls is extremely pleasant – especially at dusk. This should take you about two hours, and if you follow the walls clockwise you will eventually come to the Old Gate flanked by two lions and topped by a cockerel, which dates back to 1669. It now houses the National Maritime Museum. The museum is open from 9am to 5pm daily, and has exhibits ranging from pickled sea creatures to fibreglass whales. The Cultural Museum, Groote Kerk (Great Church), Flag rock, the modern Lighthouse, the Bell tower and the old Dutch Government House (reputedly haunted!) are also worth visiting. Old colonial mansions dot the area, well preserved and worth looking over. The Dutch Period Museum is beautifully restored and exhibits the clothes, furniture, jewellery and even the cooking utensils of the Dutch colonial era.

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