The seaside town of Galle is 116 Km away from Colombo by road or rail, down the south coast of Sri Lanka.The ancient historic city of Galle (pronounced Gawl as in old France Gaul) is 74 miles (116 km) south of the Sri Lankan Capital Colombo on the south west corner of the island. It has a charming collection of Dutch colonial era buildings with a few British Empire ones built here and there. You don’t feel like you are in Sri Lanka. You could be mistaken for being in a southern Mediterranean costal town or a Caribbean port. Galle has an atmosphere that is unique in Sri Lanka. It has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Today’s town has grown greatly and spreads into the surroundings but the Fort is the slowbeating heart of Galle‘s history. The walled city has stood since the early sixteenth century, through the Colonial periods of the Portuguese, Dutch and British and in our present times is proclaimed as an Archaeological Reserve and has been identified as a living World Heritage Site.
Above all else, Galle is a city of trade and, increasingly, art. Today the historic Fort area is crammed full of little boutique shops, cafes and hotels owned by local and foreign artists, writers, photographers, designers and poets – a third of the houses are owned by foreigners.
When it comes to fortified towns, nothing can compete with the Dutch Fort in Galle. This World Heritage Site on the south coast was the main port of call for ships sailing between the East and Europe. Today, inside the Fort you will find that it exudes old-world charm. Within the ramparts and stonewalls of the old Galle Fort – which spreads over a 36-hectare peninsula — magnificent buildings remain. The narrow streets are dotted with Dutch colonial villas and there’s a welcome absence of vehicular traffic. There are several museums and antique shops that display curiosities from the island’s colonial era.
Galle is easily reached as a day trip from Colombo and is a quick drive from the nearby beach towns of Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna, but to really savour the place, stay within the atmospheric walls of the Fort.
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