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Galle Town and Fortifications


Gale Fort Sri Lanka


  • Galle Fort is on the southwest coastline of Sri Lanka. Portuguese first built in 1588 then the Dutch significantly reinforced it from 1649 onwards. Before the arrival of the British, Galle reached the zenith of its development in the 18th century. Galle is an excellent example of a reinforced city constructed by Europeans in South and South-East Asia. It’s an architectural, archaeological and historical heritage monument that maintains a polished look, even after more than 426 years because of huge renovation work carried out by Sri Lanka’s Archaeological Department.
  • Today the fort has a multi-religious and multi-ethnic population. A number of Dutch people who own some of the properties within the fort even today and the government of Sri Lanka are planning to make this fort one of the modern wonders of the world. UNESCO has recognized the heritage value of the fort and the site has been listed as a cultural heritage by UNESCO for its exceptional display of an urban amalgamation that demonstrates the collaboration of South Asian traditions and European architecture from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

History

  • In 1505, the Portuguese made their first landing on this harbour and developed island with their close friendship with the then king Dharmaparakrama Bahu (1484–1514). Ibn Batuta visited this harbour before the arrival of the Portuguese. The fort was constructed by the Portuguese in 1541. In later years, the fort also served as a prison camp to lock up Sinhalese natives who resisted the Portuguese. The Portuguese shifted from Galle to Colombo. The Sinhalese King attacked the Portuguese in 1588 forcing them to retreat back to Galle. Initially they constructed a fort out of mud and palm trees at Galle and later on extended it with three bastions, a watch tower and a "fortalice" to protect the port.
  • In order to capture the Galle Fort, the Dutch joining hands with King Rajasinhe II in 1640. In 1640 the Dutch, seized the fort from the Portuguese. The Sinhalese built the Fort in the Dutch architectural style. Up to the early 18th century, fortifications were increased. The establishment consisted of residential quarters, business houses, warehouses and public administration buildings. In 1775, a Protestant church was also constructed to meet the requirement of the local people who were converted to Christianity as well as the colonists. The gun house, the arsenal and the Commandant's residence were the most important buildings in the fort compound. Other structures built in the fort met the requirements of defense and trade like workshops for rope making, smithy, carpentry and so on.
  • One week after taking over Colombo, the British captured the fort on 23 February 1796. Formally Sri Lanka remained a British colony from 1815 to 1948. The prominence of Galle diminished when the British established Colombo as their capital and main port in the mid-19th century.



Galle Fort Sri Lanka


Geography

  • Galle Fort is situated at the extreme southwest corner of the island. In its present form, it is spread over an area of 52 hectares. It’s at a distance of 113 kilometres from Colombo through Highway A2.

Demographics

  • The Galle city has been developed around the Galle Fort area. It has a population 112,252, over an area of 16.5 square kilometres. A number of plaques and signages provide details regarding each monument. Germans, Portuguese, English, Dutch, Sinhalese and many Moor families reside inside this fort. Further details regarding the fort are available at the Dutch period museum within the Fort and at the visitor center.