The seaside town of Galle is 116 Km away from Colombo by road or rail, down the south coast of Sri Lanka. Both routes are picturesque, following the coastline closely for much of the way. You can also take the Southern Expressway if you need to reach the city by half the time but there is not much scenery to admire.

Galle Fort

The Galle Fort, or Dutch Fort as it is also known, is a fortification first built by the Portugese on the Southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. The initial fortifications, which were built in the late 16th century, were quite basic. However the fort underwent extensive modifications in the 17th century by the Dutch, making it one of the most important archeological, architectural and historic monuments to illutrate the European influence in South East Asia between the 16th and 19th centuries. According to a statement by UNESCO the site was recognized as a World Heritage Site for its unique exposition of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries which is the criteterion number four for such recognition.

The Fort of Galle and the Portugese

Galle is the place where the Portugese made their initial landing in 1505, when made their first foray into the unknown (to them) lands of Sri Lanka. • They used their alliance with the king of the time and made notable changes in the area; this included the initial fort construction and also the construction of a Franciscan chapel in 1541. (The ruins of the chapel can still be seen today) • The small initial fort called ‘Santa Cruz’ was constructed of mud and palm trees; it was later extended with a fortalice, watchtower and three bastions.• The Portugese moved to Colombo with their increase of influence, but had to return to Galle in 1588 when their Colombo base was attacked by the Sitawakan king Raja Singha I (1581 – 1593). • They used the fort as a prison camp in later years when the opposition against them increased. • The fort fell into the hands of the Dutch after their combined attack along with the Sinhalese king of that time King Raja Singha II.

The Dutch Takeover

The Dutch, with a force of around 2500 men led by Koster, captured the fort in 1640. • The Sinhalese king, who had been desperate to get rid of the Portugese, had the locals assist in rebuilding the fort according to Dutch specifications as a form of thanks. • The Dutch continued to make fortifications to improve the fort until the early 18th century as it was used as their main base. • The fort included within its walls a Protestant church, the Commander’s residence, a gun house and arsenal, public administration buildings, residential quarters, warehouses, business structures, buildings for trade and defense such as smithy, carpenters’ workshop, rope maker’s workshop and etc. • The Protestant church was built, ironically enough, with baroque architecture which was used to establish and show off the dominance of Catholicism. • Another asset left from the time of the Dutch is their elaborate sewer system which floods at high tide, and takes the sewer into the sea as the tide goes down. • The Dutch lost the Galle Fort to the British in 1796, a week after the capture of Colombo. As the British used Colombo as their main base, they paid little attention to Galle and the importance of the fort declined with the passing of time.

    Bodhi Tours & Travels

  • No. 44A, Highlevel Road,
  • Kirulapone, Colombo 06
  • Sri Lanka. Tel. +94 112513315
  • E-Mail -
Copyright © 2014 Bodhi Tours and Travels - All Rights Reserved I Website developed by MTS