Galle Fort Library

Unraveling The Charm of Galle Fort: A Comprehensive Travel Guide

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The word ‘Galle’ is pronounced as ‘Gawl’ and seems appropriate as the fort resembles a medieval European town. The streets are adorned with cobblestones and lined with cafes, eateries, restaurants, boutiques, homes, temples, and archaic commercial and government buildings. 

Galle Fort was constructed by the Portuguese in 1588 and extensively fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century. The 36-hectare campus bustles with life even today, just like it would have in the previous era. The Dutch influence is ingrained in everything: Right from the names of the streets to the vibrant, colonial architecture. 

The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the perfect spot for anyone with a keen eye for history, a hunger for culture, an appetite for diverse cuisine, and a desire to experience life most realistically. Galle exerts an undeniable pull, captivating visitors with its fascinating history and unique atmosphere. Let us wander through the walls and streets of this fortified town on foot and discover new things as we go.

A Comprehensive Travel Guide To Galle Fort

Old town of Galle and its fortifications - map

Best Time To Visit Galle

16th century houses at Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

The best time to visit Galle is between December and March. The weather is pleasant, and the place sees minimal rainfall. The wettest period is between May and November.

How To Reach?

By Air

Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo (airport code: CMB, 153 Km) is the nearest airport. From the airport, head to the Colombo main bus stand. From there, board a bus or train to reach Galle.

By Rail

Galle Railway Station is located in the heart of the city, near the Galle Fort and cricket stadium. From here, you can walk or hop on a tuk-tuk to see the sites at the fort complex. The station has good connectivity to nearby cities and towns like Colombo and Matara.

By Road

Galle has well-laid roads and good connectivity to the west and southern coasts. Frequent buses are available to Colombo, Matara, and nearby tourist destinations.

Languages Spoken

Most of the local people converse in Sinhala and English.

Network Availability

Being a popular tourist spot, Galle has reliable connectivity with Dialog and Airtel.

ATM Availability

There are many ATMs and currency exchanges available in the city of Galle.

Where To Stay & Eat In Galle?

Galle Fort is home to some of the finest resorts and restaurants. We stayed at Oynese Beach Cabin ($). The place is far from the Galle Fort, but the sunsets and vibe were exceptional. A few of our recommended accommodations near the fort include:

There are numerous restaurants near the Fort area. From street food to world-class international cuisines, you can enjoy the world’s best in one place.

 

Exploring Around

Exploring the old town of Galle Fort

You can explore Galle Fort on foot. An alternative way is to hire a tuk-tuk. Public buses do not run on the Galle Fort premises. Visit the historical monuments as you stroll along the ancient ramparts of the fort. 

The original home of the Dutch Governor and his staff – now the  Amangalle Resort Hotel, the Galle Library (entry permitted only for library members), the Museums, the All Saints Church, the old houses, schools, cozy cafes, and restaurants are lined up in the colorful Dutch buildings spanning the grid system of streets. The vibe at night is so good that the entire town is lit with lights that transport you to the bygone era of the Dutch.

  • Entry Fee: No entry fee is collected to enter the Galle Fort premises. But you’ll have to pay for the museums.

Important Landmarks In Galle Fort

The architecture within the premises reminds you of an era when Sri Lankan island was colonized by the Portuguese and the Dutch. Numerous buildings constructed and expanded during the two colonists’ reigns have been restored and renovated with utmost care. The attention to detail is prominent and makes you feel like you have traveled back in time.

1. Galle International Stadium

Initially built as a race course, the Galle International Stadium was later renovated into a cricket stadium. It is a world-renowned stadium known for its picturesque views and proximity to the Galle Fort. You can see children and adults practicing the sport and working out during the morning and evening hours.

2. Main & Old Gates

Galle fort main gate

There are two entrances to the Galle Fort. The main gate is near the Galle International Stadium, while the old gate is near the seaside. While the former is newly constructed, the latter was built much before. The old gate is beautifully carved with the letters V, O, and C, which stand for Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie. The words are from the Dutch language and mean Dutch East India Company. The letters are flanked by two lions and topped by a cockerel with the date 1669. The symbol was a popular mega trademark of the Dutch in the early 17th century.

3. Galle National Museum

Galle National Museum

Built in 1656, Galle National Museum is a single-storey Dutch building seen from the Galle Fort’s main gate. The museum comprises 3 galleries which are home to rare exhibits from the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. A collection of traditional masks and ornamental objects made of turtle shells, ancient wooden carvings, Dutch furniture, weaponry, and Beeralu lace weaving are important exhibits preserved in the museum.

There is also a separate gallery dedicated to the Chinese to showcase the trade relation between China and Sri Lanka with statues of a Chinese Buddhist Monk, Faxian (337 to 422 CE), and the 14th Century Fleet Admiral Zheng He (1371 – 1433).

  • Timings: 9 AM – 4:45 PM, closed on Mondays and public holidays
  • Entry Fee: LKR 50 for Sri Lankan nationals, LKR 550 for foreign adults, and LKR 350 for foreign children.

4. National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum, Galle - Sri Lanka
National Maritime Museum, Galle

With six galleries across two floors, the National Maritime Museum is the most modern and high-tech museum in the country. It has lots of film and children-friendly interactive displays that illuminate the town’s maritime past, present, and future.

Gallery 1 – Indian Ocean Through Ages | Historical Memories: Epistemology of Seafaring

Gallery 2 – The Material Culture: Evidence of Communication and Exchange

Gallery 3 – The Sea and the Land: Domination and Resistance | Heritage Alive: A Vista of Maritime Ethnography

Gallery 4 – Museum Curator’s Office

Gallery 5 – Awondster Gallery (New Frontiers in Research: Decoding the Past)

Gallery 6 – Shopping Area 

  • Timings: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM, open on all days
  • Entry Fee: USD 5 for foreign adults and USD 2.5 for foreign children. SAARC discount applicable. Free for Sri Lankan nationals.

5. Galle Clock Tower

Also called Anthonisz Memorial Clock Tower, the Galle Clock Tower was constructed in 1893. Standing tall at 83 Feet, the tower is built in memory of Dr. Anthonisz, a doctor who served as the Colonial Surgeon in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka and was a representative on the Legislative Council.

You can’t go inside the clock tower. However, near the clock tower, you’ll get a good view of the fort ramparts, Galle International Stadium,  the ocean, and the city. It is worth walking all the way to the clock tower.

6. Galle Lighthouse

Galle Lighthouse

The iconic landmark of Galle Fort is the white-colored 87-foot-tall Galle lighthouse. The concrete lighthouse that you see today was erected by the British in 1939. Although entry is not permitted inside the lighthouse, you can enjoy the surroundings near the Indian Ocean and take pictures for the Gram. 

The place where the lighthouse is located is also known as Point Utrecht Bastion. You can also go to the lighthouse beach to soak your feet or take a dip in the water.

7. Flag Rock Bastion

Flag rock Bastion

A right corner from the Galle Lighthouse resides a Bastion on the Indian Ocean known as Flag Rock Bastion. A popular spot for cliff jumping among the locals, it is a viewpoint that is super breezy. You can also see corals pierced along the walls of the flag rock bastion. The view of the lighthouse in the backdrop is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Did you find the Galle Fort interesting? Share this blog with your friends and family and encourage them to visit the place. 

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