GALLE FORT — COLONIAL LIFE

Forte de Galle

I went with a well-researched list of places I wanted to visit when I visited Sri Lanka late last year. The teardrop country, near India, holds in itself centuries of tradition and its ancient cities and the Galle Fort witness history.

About 100 km from the capital, Colombo, and very close to the place where I was lodged in the south, Galle made even more sense to me when I learned that in 1505 a Portuguese vessel bound for the Maldives stopped there to take refuge from a storm.

Galle Fort
View from the Galle Fort

The guides tell that a cock (“galo” in Portuguese) was on board and that when they heard him sing, they decided to call that new land Galle. However, other say that the name of the city comes from the word in Sinhala, gala (rock). Well, I confess that the first theory is much more interesting. 😉

The Portuguese presence continues for years, even with the construction of a small fort, which they called Santa Cruz. But with the entry of the Dutch, all traces were erased and, in 1663, the fortress that we can visit today was built.

Walking the streets of Galle Fort

I entered the walls through the old gate under a Dutch coat of arms, next to the Marine Archeological Museum and going to the large square surrounded by courts.

Galle Fort
Old Gate

Cars can drive inside the fort, but it’s best to walk the streets full of historic buildings, churches, mosques, small shops and restaurants.

Galle Fort
Streets inside the fort

Galle Fort
Mosque near the fort walls

The Dutch Hospital was the second stop. This former colonial building from the 18th century, which once received patients, today gives way to a series of shops and restaurants, with tables that extend through the balconies facing the sea.

Galle Fort
The Dutch Hospital

From there, following the outline of the walls, the view conquers you, as we approach another icon of this place: a lighthouse with 18 meters. From 1938, it still works today.

Galle Fort
The lighthouse

We then chose to cross the inner streets to reach the Dutch Reformed Church and the Sun Bastion, with its Clock Tower and a view over the Galle International Cricket Stadium (another of the legacies of the people who passed through those lands).

Galle Fort
Dutch Reformed Church
Galle Fort
Sun Bastion
Galle Fort
The Clock Tour

Where to eat and sleep in Forte de Galle

As I said, I stayed in Ahangama, but within the walls of the Galle Fort there are innumerable lodges for all tastes and wallets.

Choose HERE the best place to spend the night surrounded by History.

As for the meals, I followed the suggestions of the Lonely Planet and went to discover the Elita restaurant, near the lighthouse. Completely recommended! Mainly the tuna Carpaccio and the prawns. We liked it so much that on our last night in Sri Lanka we went back there. 🙂

Galle Fort Galle Fort Galle Fort

Check out the video on the Galle Fort:

Enjoyed the post? What do you think about the Galle Fort? Share your comment below.

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32 comments

  1. I like the look of colonial buildings very much. Galle Fort seems to be the perfect place to take some photos of this architectural style. Besides, those foods look so appealing, that I feel like booking a flight to Forte de Galle right now!

  2. Ahh why did you have to post so many delicious looking food pictures? I’m pretty hungry over here, and this definitely didn’t help! In all seriousness though, this does look like a cool place to visit!

  3. This place is fascinating and I loved your pics. Btw I do agree that the story of the Portuguese galo (cock) is more interesting…

    The food looks yum too, but I wonder if there is some good veg food as well for people like me?

  4. Sri Lanka is high on my bucket list and I am planning a trip to it slowly. I definitely wanted to visit Galle. But after reading your post, there is no way I am going to miss it 🙂

  5. I love the shot of the bike on the small, winding street. It must be quite an experience to ride through with all the foliage coming down and the houses packed in so close. The food looks delicious, too!

  6. The fort looks really cool and reminds me of the fort in Valença, Portugal that we went to before. It’s interesting hearing about how the fort changed hands from Portugese to Dutch and all the artifacts left from those times. It would be fun to go up that clock tower.

  7. Oh, Sri Lanka is on the list of countries I would like to visit this year as well! I am yet to create my itinerary though, so thank you for this post. I am looking forward to see its wonderful beaches and try their delicious and unique cuisine.

    1. You’ll have a blast! It’s a country full of lovely beaches, wonderful food and incredible history. I’m gonna publish other posts about Sri Lanka in the weeks to come, so keep checking the blog for more inspiration.

  8. The fort is quite an interesting one. And your pictures make it even more so. I am sure there are some interesting stories too, that make the whole place worthwhile. Sadly I could not make it the last time I went to SL. Maybe Next time.

  9. I haven’t really had Sri Lanka on my radar as a place to visit until now. Galle Fort looks impressive and I agree that exploring is always better done on foot than in a car. Good to know that there is accommodation to suit all budgets.

  10. Hi Marlene,

    It is very true that the portuguese influence is very palpable. I’m Mozambican and see it in my country often. So I love to visit these old, stone cities and simply immerse myself in its musings.
    The food in your photograph looks delicious!

    1. Hi, Celma. Mozambique has a special place in the Portuguese heart. Still have to go to your country one day. I think it must be an amazing place. And, yes, the food was delicious! But I heard that Mozambique shrimps are the real deal

  11. The place looks really beautiful! You can almost tell exactly what the climate is like just by looking at the buildings. Did you ever see that point working?

  12. Galle Fort is the most preserved European Fort in Asia. Its architecture is quite fascinating. Also, loved that cobbled street giving the feel of the by gone era!

  13. Galle looks charming and has a vintage aura about it. The Portuguese influence is visble in the place. I think this is a lovely place which we need to get to. Last time we did a flying visit of Colombo when we were transiting through SL.

  14. Another little gem from Sri Lanka! There is something charming about these small towns with colonial hangovers. It transports people to a different era but credit must also be given to your narration and photographs for that!

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