Galle, the Portuguese fortified city

Updated on 10.06.2018

In the 16th century the Portuguese arrived at Galle and built a fort there. Since that time, the old town kept all its charm, protected by the ramparts designed to protect it from attacks from the sea and the land. A relaxing stopover on your journey on the South coast of Sri Lanka.

Lighthouse in historic Galle, Sri Lanka

History of the city

The city of Galle has since long been a major port of the road of the Indies. We find the first occurrences in the 6th century. The famous explorer Ibn Batuta stopped there in the 14th century.

The Portuguese occupied the site from 1505 to 1588 and built the first ramparts on the land side. Less than a century later, the Dutch built the fort in 1663. In the following century the sea-side fortifications ended in 1729. During the 18th century the city was well protected from the incursions of other colonial powers and it prospered until at the arrival of the British in 1796 who preferred to establish the main port of Ceylon to Colombo, which led to the decline of Galle.

Now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle is a unique Sri Lankan tourist destination that bears witness to the military architecture imported by Europeans to Asia.

Visit Galle

To visit the historic part of Galle you have to enter the fortified wall from the North and then head south (Church Street).

Then follow the sea side ramparts towards the east to the lighthouse.

The old part of Galle is not very extensive, so by strolling for an hour you should not miss the main colonial buildings, including the Hotel Amangalla, the Dutch Reformed Church.

If you like museums, the most interesting one is the Maritime Archeology Museum. Entrance costs link:650LKR" target="_blank">650LKR. High quality pieces from underwater excavations can be found here, testimony to the intensity of trade between Galle and the Kingdom of Ceylon (former name of Sri Lanka). Of less interest there is also the Galle National Museum and the Historical Mansion Museum, presenting heterogeneous objects of a former collector.

Which hotel to choose in Galle

We are more able to advise you on upscale hotels with beach access, and recommend the Jetwing Lighthouse Club and the hotel Elysium.

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