Galle is place that’s been frozen in time. Drive into town and an epic, monstrous Fort will greet you to one side – a Dutch Fort that encompasses the heart and soul of Galle. Many Europeans have made the Fort that home and continue to stay there, running guest houses, luxury villas and gift shops all secluded and hidden away from the main road. Walk through the cobblestone streets past old colonial churches and step into one of the many art deco cafes and restaurants for a quick snack and a refreshing drink. Step back out into the sunny day with a hat for protection and weave your way in and out of the museums and art galleries that also encompass the Fort. While the Galle town is always a chaotic hustle and bustle, the Fort remains quieter and life goes on as though it were still in a bygone era.
First built by the Portuguese in 1558, the Fort was fortified extensively by the Dutch in the 17th Century and of course is now inhabited by a host of Sri Lankans and many other European nationalities making it an intercontinental mass of history and culture. The ramparts are perfect for an evening stroll as the silhouettes of children playing against the backdrop of the sunset are breathtaking sites you will want to see and photograph while you’re in town. Wander back along the tiny streets and marvel at the architectural wonders that will greet you along the way like religious institutions, judicial complexes, mosques and more.
While the actual Galle town is a place of trade and chaos, the Fort has increasingly been known as the country’s artistic hub playing host to festivals and events that bring in some of the world’s leading artists and authors. The Galle Literary Festival, the Galle Children’s’ Festival and the Galle Music Festival are just some of the biannual occurrences in the Fort while exhibitions and performances are a daily dose for anyone who visits here.
The history and significance of the mammoth-sized Fort has also made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.