Welcome to Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
Galle Fort (Galu Kotuwa) or the Dutch Fort (the Ramparts of Galle) is a Portuguese fortress situates in the bay of Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. In 1588, the Portuguese built this fortress. Then, the Dutch fortified it during the 17th century. It looks great due to the continuous reconstruction works done by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. Galle fortress is one of the best examples of a city build by Europeans. It is still one of the best-preserved cities in Asia.
You can see the mix of European architectural styles and South Asian traditions in the fortress. In 1988, UNESCO declared Galle Dutch Fort as a World Heritage site. You can see the mix of European architectural styles and South Asian traditions in the fortress. It covers an area of approximately 52 hectares. UNESCO has nominated it as a cultural heritage UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is a derivative of Gallo (rooster) of the Portuguese language. The other one is galaa. In Sinhala, galaa is a cattle herd. If you are a lover of history and archeology, Galle Fort is an ideal place for you. If you are looking for a peaceful and fun holiday, this is a perfect place for you. Galle Fort is one of the best places to spend your evening time, mostly on weekends.
Galle Fort History
The Galle Fort has a colorful history. This Place was a harbor during the Portuguese period. In later years, it was used as a prison camp to incarcerate Sinhalese natives who opposed the Portuguese.
Initially, the Portuguese built a small fort out of palm trees and mud in the 16th century to defend Galle. They called it Santa Cruz. After that, it extended it with a watchtower and three bastions to guard the harbor. The Dutch arrived in Sri Lanka in 1640 and captured the Galle fort. They reconstructed it with further expansions and reinforcements. In 1876, the Dutch fort of Galle was handed over Galle Fort to the English. They made many modifications to the Galle fort.
Galle Fort Map
Highway A2 provides road links to Galle from Colombo. The distance is 113 km. Since 2012 an expressway has linked Galle to Colombo. Also, the rail links are available to Colombo and Matara. In addition to that, these route is through the Galle Port at the Galle Harbor.
How do you get to Galle Fort
In our opinion, the most scenic way to get from Colombo to Galle is via train. It runs along the palm-fringed coast. The Colombo Fort to Galle train departs ten times per day. The earliest departure time is 6:10 is and the final departure at 19:30. It takes around 2.5 – 3.5 hours.
The cost per person for the 2nd class is LKR 220.00. The cost per person for the 3rd class LKR 120.00. Price may increase with new rates.
If you prefer to go there by bus, there is a direct air-conditioned bus from Maharagama bus station to Galle. It is easy to get from Colombo to Galle via the A2 highway. It will take approximately 2 hours. The departure times are every 20 minutes from 5:00 am – 4:45 pm.
It is also possible to take the local bus from Colombo to Galle. The local bus will leave from Colombo Fort bus station. It will be the best option for your tight budget.
Alternatively, you can ask your hotel to organize a car or hire an Uber for a fair price.
Galle Fort Location
They constructed it on a small rocky peninsula.
The Commandant’s residence, the arsenal, and the gun house are the most attractive buildings in the fort complex. You can study the beauty of Aurora Bastion, Emaloon Bastion, Tremon Bastion, Kleinberg Bastion, and the Light House.
The fort entrance has constructed using cut stones and semicircular stones. It shows the creativity of Dutch architecture and technology. You can see the symbols for the Dutch architecture in the creations of Warehouse, Bastian, Dutch Hospital, Protestant Church & Churchyard, Dutch governors & commanders houses, and other buildings at Galle Fort.
The fort has two gates. Those are Portcullises gates. Also, the Portuguese had built a moat here.
Wonderful Places to Visit in the Galle Fort
Dutch Reformed Church (Groote Kerk)
The Dutch Reformed Church has a built-in 1640. Then it has modified between 1752 and 1755. The church has paved with gravestones from the old Dutch cemetery. The historic belfry in Dutch Reformed Church has built-in 1707. The bell rang every hour in its heyday. You can see that antiques within the church.
The National Maritime Archaeology Museum
You can see the National Maritime Museum situates close to the Old gate at Galle Fort. This Great Warehouse was built in the 17th century by the Dutch to store spices and ship equipment. The active involvement of the Government of the Netherlands caused the establishment of this museum in 1997. The project finds the Galle Harbor consisted of over 21 shipwreck sites and associated artifacts. Also, you can see a collection of items used during the Dutch period at the Dutch Museum.
The Old Dutch Hospital
In 2014, Old Dutch Hospital re-opened as a dining and shopping complex.
The Buddhist Temple
Sudharmalaya Temple is a beautiful white Buddhist temple within Galle Fort.
The Meera Mosque
It is the center of the local Muslim community, built-in 1904
All Saints Anglican Church
The All-Saints Anglican church built-in 1871 from solid rock.
Galle Fort Clock Tower
In 1882, they constructed the Clock Tower.
Galle Fort Lighthouse
It is 18m high. They were erected Galle Lighthouse in 1939.
New Orient Hotel
New Orient Hotel was born in 1694. The aim is the exclusive use of the Dutch Governor and his staff. In 1865, it converted into a hotel. It used to cater to the European passengers who traveled between Europe and Galle Port. Now, it is a modernized franchise of Aman Resorts, and it is called Amangalla.
Some of the street names inside the Fort still retain the original Dutch words.
- Moorish Pedlar Street or Moorse Kramerstraat
- Lighthouse Street or Zeeburgstraator Middelpuntstraat – It offers the perfect base for you to explore the beauty of Galle.
- Hospital Street – where the Dutch Hospital.
- Leyn Baan Street or Leyenbahnstraat – The street direct to the House of the Surgeon and the Medical Gardens.
- Old Rope-Walk Street – where the coir rope created
- Parawa Street
- Chandos Street
- Church Street
The Old Dutch Governor House
It identifies as Amangalla, built-in 1648. Now we can find it as a luxurious hotel, which offers delicious afternoon tea.
The Dutch have initially introduced the breadfruit tree (Artucarpus incisisus) in Galle. Sri Lanka’s oldest breadfruit tree is in Galle Fort. During your journey, you have a chance to see the oldest breadfruit tree at Galle Fort.
Fantastic Things to do in Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
Visit the Galle Fort Lighthouse (1848)
Galle Fort Lighthouse locates the corner of Hospital and Rampart Street.
As a visitor, do not forget to visit the beautiful Galle Lighthouse during your journey. It locates on the walls of the ancient Galle Fort. It guides the safe passage of ships into Galle Harbor. Also, the lighthouse is a perfect place for photography. It is nearly 30m tall.
Walk along the Galle Fort Walls for Panoramic Views
These coral-mixed walls and ramparts know many stories about Galle Fort’s long history. You can follow the Fort Walk, starting at the historic Clock Tower. It will lead you to explore every corner of the corner of Galle Fort. The length is approximately 3 km. The wall made using lime, sand, and coral stones. Before moving onto the Main Gate, you can reach the western section restored Dutch Hospital. Also, you can enter the Meeran Mosque, Flag Rock, and Triton Bastion. You can finish your walk at Star Bastion. In there, you will see the northern coast towards Hikkaduwa.
Along the way, you can spot locals playing cricket. It will be an experience with many tasty street foods like wade and fried lentil. We recommend you to go there early in the morning or late in the afternoon because the sun in Galle is fierce in the daytime.
Wander through the Galle Fort Interior
My favorite thing to do in Galle Fort is to walk through the old Dutch buildings. You can see plenty of beautiful things still on display from ancient, Portuguese, and Dutch colonial times.
Important Heritage Monuments in the Galle Fort are
- Dutch Reform Church
- Old Dutch Hospital
- All Saints Anglican Church
- Meeran Mosque
- Sudharmalaya Temple
Learn about the Fort History
You can get into the Maritime Archaeological Museum and Galle National Museum to gather more information regarding the Galle Fort.
You can get together along the fort walls to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean every evening. We recommend you to be there at around 5:30 pm. It will be a happy event for you. Also, you can watch the cricket matches played on the below grassland. As a whole family, you can get together to make this experience at the Galle Fort wall. The sky color will be all kinds of shades of blue, orange, pink, and purple.
I think the best point of watching the sunset is the Triton Bastion. However, you can watch the sunset on the western side of the Galle Fort walls.
Funny Shopping Experience
If you are a shopping lover, Galle Fort is a place for you. Pedlar Street is the best place at Fort for shopping. You can find the hundreds of boutiques, spice and gem stores, art galleries, and handicrafts dotted throughout Galle Fort.
Galle Fort is an easy place to pick up souvenirs for your friends and family.
Enjoy with Dinner
It will be hard to select one restaurant on your list. You can find the best restaurants which offer great contemporary Sri Lanka food, with a few international additions.
Watch a Cricket Match at Galle Fort Ground
Galle Fort is home to one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. It is the Galle International Cricket Ground. It locates right at the entrance to the Galle Fort proper. In there, you can watch the international games throughout the year. It will be a perfect day out for any sports lover. You can book your tickets for games using the website.
Explore Galle Markets
The Galle market is home to some of the best fruit you have ever tried. The local sellers are willing to let you the fruits before you buy them. Make sure you try Mangosteen and the delicious pineapple. The local fruit, spice, and flower markets locate outside of Galle Fort. These markets are also a perfect place for the best flavors and curry mix.
Places to Visit near Galle
If you plan a Galle tour, make sure to check out the other attractions in neighboring towns.
Japanese Peace Pagoda
Japanese Peace Pagoda situates perched high up on a hill between Unawatuna and Galle.
Handunugoda Tea Estate
It situates approximately 45 minutes away from Galle and, you will learn about so many things regarding tea production.
Traditional Stilt Fishermen
You can see Traditional Stilt Fishermen at Ahangama or Koggala.
Lounge at Sugar Beach
It is a new beach club in Talpe. You can reach there around 20 minutes from Galle.
Galle Fort Hotels and Restaurants
I think that the Galle Fort is home to a great variety of food and drink options. According to our experience, some of our favorite spots mention as follows.
This place is a perfect place for high tea or a cocktail. But do not forget, it’s expensive.
If you are a seafood lover, come here and enjoy some of the best Sri Lankan seafood.
It locates in Old Dutch Hospital. Famous place for western classical food. Also, you can try the Lamprais cooked in Banana leaf.
You will meet Pedlars Inn Cafe and Restaurant in Pedlars Street. You can stop for pizza or pasta as well as stay for ice cream.
Indian Hut is one of the best places for Cheap and tasty Indian food near Galle Lighthouse.
Expect only traditional Sri Lanka dishes, such as rice and curry. Foods are very local and very cheap.
You can enjoy it with good gelato here. I like the Mango flavor very much.
You can find this place at the southern end of Galle Fort. You can enjoy some delicious homemade ice cream like Mango, passionfruit, and coconut flavors.
Accommodation in Galle Fort
We recommend you to stay at least two nights to get a good feel of this historic area. You can also move to the southern beaches like Unawatuna. If you want to go on a day trip to Galle along Sri Lanka’s south coast, we recommend you to stay west of Talalla or Matara.
According to our experience, some of the best options mention as follows.
In our view, Airbnb is our best option when we are looking for cheap accommodation in Sri Lanka. The Airbnb facilities are available in Galle.
Galle Fort is full of hotels. Most of them are some of the most beautiful we have ever seen. You can book hotels with beautiful rooms, private courtyards, and exceptional service. If you plan to stay overnight, there are several incredible boutique hotels in Galle with a unique hotel experience. You can also search for all hotel options for Galle using HotelsCombined.
Best time to Visit Galle Fort
We suggest visiting Galle Fort anytime from October to April. The monsoon rains have passed and, the temperatures are stable during this season. However, the best time to visit there is between February to April. The low rainfall and calmer seas provide the perfect weather for you.