A major southern city then and now, Galle will enchant you without a shadow of a doubt not only for its natural harbour and turquoise beaches but also for its heritage. Many are the places in which colonial traces are left behind, but Galle is a remarkable and intact preservation of colonial history. Beyond the iconic clock tower, flurry of the modern city, and through the doors of the fort's gate, is a land where Dutch history lives
Extensively fortified from the 17th century onwards the Dutch Fort in Galle is a UNESCO world heritage site as it is the largest and best enduring construction by European colonials in Asia. Although a historic preservation, the community within the fort has a lifestyle of its own, replete with active administrative offices, prison barracks and court complexes.
A walk along the narrow streets will charm you for its two tiered tiny houses, with flowers hanging from their balconies as if coming alive from story books. Amidst these houses are tiny book shops, road side cafes, boutique dress shops and even the occasional jeweler. You will find that life goes by, no matter how many tourists stroll through the streets, with kids playing cricket to dogs lying down in the sun. As you make your way, there are few important stops you should make.
Named the 'Portuguese gate' this gate leads to the cobbled courts square, housing the present day magistrates court building, where you will see the Dutch East Indies Company coat of arms on the inside and the British coat of arms on the outside; a worthy addition to your photo-clicking memories.
The National Maritime Archeology Museum in Galle is the only such museum in Sri Lanka. Originally the warehouse of the Dutch Fort, it is now home to an assortment of treasures found from the Southern coast of Sri Lanka. Displaying artifacts recovered from the sea, ranging from artillery to earthen pots this museum is an interesting stop for anyone and everyone.
Originally a Portuguese convent, this church was built in 1755 and is interestingly paved with gravestones from the Old Dutch cemetery. Complete with gravestones lining the walls, a burial chamber and an organ with its pulpit from Malaysia, it makes up for an interesting stop on your way.
Placed at one corner of the Fort called the Arab Quarters, the Meeran Jumma Mosque is a splendid white mosque left behind by the original Arabian traders of Sri Lanka. Over three centuries old, the mosque is still being used by the majority Muslim community of the fort.
The iconic Lighthouse of the Galle fort is an offshore lighthouse still operational and maintained by the Lankan Ports authority. Standing at a height of 26 metres cannot be missed taking a walk along the ramparts of the fort. Although the building doesn't permit visitors, it is a picture fitting for a postcard.