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Label : Must Visit

Tags : Forts & Palaces

Time Required : 3-4 hours

Entry Fee : Free

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Galle Fort, Galle Overview

The Galle Fort is a well-preserved historical fortress and the main part of Galle. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site characterized by narrow cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and a fortress wall that offers panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. Visitors can explore the Dutch Reformed Church, the Old Dutch Hospital (now a shopping and dining complex), and various colonial-era houses and mansions inside the fort.

The fort has a rich history, initially built by the Portuguese in the late 16th century and later fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century during their colonial rule. Galle Fort features a unique blend of European and South Asian architectural styles. The well-preserved structures include Dutch colonial buildings, Portuguese-era churches, British-era monuments, and elements of Sinhalese architecture. The narrow cobblestone streets of Galle Fort create a charming and atmospheric setting. Walking through these streets allows visitors to absorb the historical ambiance, explore art galleries, boutiques, and cafes, and witness daily life within the fort. Galle Fort is not just a historical site but a living community where people reside, work, and continue to contribute to the fort's cultural heritage. The fort's unique character has made it a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

Must Know Before You Visit Galle Fort

Must Know : Galle Fort can only be entered from the main gate side 
Visit Galle Fort in the morning to avoid busy streets

Galle Fort Highlights

1. Galle National Museum

Galle National Museum
Occupying a single-story colonnaded mansion built in 1656, the National Museum of Galle is Galle Fort’s oldest remaining Dutch building. The museum upholds Sri Lanka’s Portuguese, Chinese, (Read More) and Dutch heritage with displays of traditional furniture, weapons, turtle shell ware, ebony, ivory, melamine and bronzeware, lacework, statuettes, gold-plated life-size statues of Chinese Admiral Zheng He and Faxian.

2. Dutch Reformed Church

Dutch Reformed Church
The Dutch Reformed Church, also known as De Groote Kerk, was built in 1755; it is the oldest Protestant church in Sri Lanka and continues to be in use today. It is mostly renowned for its fascinating (Read More)interiors. This piece of colonial architecture houses interesting relics as a testament to its long history, such as an organ, pulpit, and stunning stained glasswork.

3. All Saints Church

All Saints Church
The All Saints Church is a well-built structure located just opposite the Maritime Archaeology Museum and was originally built in 1871 by the Anglican community. The church has beautiful and well-main (Read More)tained carved arches, stone columns, and original stained-glass windows.

4. National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum
Listed by UNESCO, the National Maritime Archaeology Museum occupies a 1671-built Dutch warehouse above the Galle Fort Old Gate. The museum introduces Sri Lanka’s history of navigation, marine li (Read More)fe, and anthropology, with 3,600 archaeological exhibits. The displays include sea-faring, maritime trade, scaled-down whale models, natural coral beds, deep sea fish, and life-size dioramas of traditional fishing.

5. Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct

Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct
The Old Dutch Hospital is Galle’s longest-standing Dutch colonial building, now converted into a high-end shopping and dining precinct. The complex features two central courtyards and long colon (Read More)naded verandas with multi-cuisine restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and souvenir stores.

6. Historical Mansion Museum

Historical Mansion Museum
The Historical Mansion Museum is inside the Galle Fort and is more of an antique shop than a museum. It belongs to a single family and has a great display of their family antique collection. It exhibi (Read More)ts a collection of miscellaneous items ranging from colonial artifacts to other antiquities - with many things available for sale.

7. Galle Lighthouse

Galle Lighthouse
Initially built in 1848, it is one of the most visited attractions of the fort due to its picturesque surroundings, perfect for a serene stroll or an Instagram-worthy photo. It is important to note th (Read More)at visitors are not allowed to climb to the top of the lighthouse.

8. Shri Sudharmalaya Buddhist Temple

Shri Sudharmalaya Buddhist Temple
Sri Sudharmalaya Buddhist Temple dates back to 1889 and is Galle’s only Buddhist temple with hints of European architecture. In front of the temple is a large reclining Buddha statue, a small st (Read More)upa, and an unusual bell, which indicates the presence of a church at one time. The main prayer hall features stunning Buddha statues, murals, and gongs.

9. Meeran Jumma Masjid

Meeran Jumma Masjid
Meeran Jumma Masjid is the only mosque inside Galle Fort. This mosque, with an alluring whitewashed facade, has been operational since the 1750s. Unlike other mosques with Islamic details, Jumma Masji (Read More)d showcases Victorian and Baroque architecture, a European-style atrium, and stained glass windows like churches. Separate prayer areas for women and men are available.

10. Flag Rock

Flag Rock
Flag Rock is an erstwhile bastion situated in the southernmost corner of Galle Fort. Formerly a signaling point, today it is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike to unwind after sightseeing a (Read More)t the fort. It is among the best places to watch the sunset. Cliff jumping at the site is relatively popular;

11. Galle Clocktower

Galle Clocktower
Constructed on the site of the former guard room, Galle Fort Clock Tower is a longstanding landmark within the ramparts of Galle Fort. Surrounded by old Dutch ruins, this four-story-tall stone monumen (Read More)t with a large clock face hails from 1883 and overlooks the oceanfront central Moon Bastion and Galle Cricket Stadium. There is a scenic stone ramp and walkway alongside.

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History of the Galle Fort

The modern history of the Galle Fort begins from the year 1502. At this time, a small fleet of Portuguese ships arrived which were swayed off by the storm. Since then, the fort was managed by the Portuguese and used as a prison camp for the Sinhalese who went against them. Later, the Portuguese were attacked by the Dutch who took over the city and made the Galle Fort with sand, mud, and palm trees.

The fort was later taken over by the British in the year 1796 after they captured the capital city of Colombo and it remained under the British rule until the country got independence in the year 1948.  Further, the importance of Galle as a city also reduced after the British declared Colombo as the capital.

Local Market at Galle

Visit the Galle vegetable market, where one can find many different types of exotic and delicious fruits to indulge. Grab a fresh drink at the King Coconut stand and buy some local sweetmeats to snack on the way. You will also find many different kinds of herbs and spices displayed beautifully. Some of the exotic fruits and vegetables include Banana Blossom, Breadfruit, Jak, Egg Plant, Drumsticks and Snake Gourd.

How To Reach Galle Fort

You can easily access Galle from Unawatuna by boarding a bus or taking a tuk-tuk, which should not charge you more than 200-500 SLR. The Galle Fort is a short walk from the bus station or the train station.

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