Sri Lanka Tours & Travel Information

Galle Fort

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Price: Free $
Contact Government of Sri Lanka
160/24, Kirimandala Mawatha,
Colombo 05. Sri Lanka.

Phone: +94-11-236 9100
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galle_Fort

Description

Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

Galle Fort, in the Bay of Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. It is a historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument, which even after more than 423 years maintains a polished appearance, due to extensive reconstruction work done by Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka.

The fort has a colourful history, and today has a multi-ethnic and multi-religious population.
The Sri Lankan government and many Dutch people who still own some of the properties inside the fort are looking at making this one of the modern wonders of the world. The heritage value of the fort has been recognized by the UNESCO and the site has been inscribed as a cultural heritage UNESCO World Heritage Site under criteria iv, for its unique exposition of "an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries."

The Galle Fort, also known as the Dutch Fort or the "Ramparts of Galle", withstood the Boxing Day tsunami which damaged part of coastal area Galle town. It has been since restored.
The Galle Fort also houses the elite Amangalla resort hotel, located near the Dutch Reformed Church. It was originally built in 1684 to house the Dutch Governor and his staff. It was then converted into a hotel and named then as the New Oriental Hotel in 1865, which catered to the European passengers traveling between Europe and Galle Port in the 19th century.

Galle’s earliest historical existence is traced to Ptolemy’s world map of 125–150 AD when it was a busy port, trading with Greece, Arab countries, China and others. Its mention as a "port of call of the Levant' is made in the cosmography of the "Cosmas Indicopleustes". This is the harbour where the Portuguese, under the leadership of Lorenzo de Almeida, made their first landing in 1505 on the island and caused a notable change in the history of the island with their close friendship with Dharmaparakrama Bahu (1484–1514), the then king of the country. Before the Portuguese came here, Ibn Batuta had touched base at this port. This was the beginning of the fort’s history, which was built by the Portuguese, along with a Franciscan chapel (now mostly in ruins) inside the fort in 1541. The fort also, in later years, served as prison camp to incarcerate Sinhalese natives who opposed the Portuguese. The Portuguese had moved to Colombo from Galle as they preferred that place. In 1588, however, they were attacked by the Sinhalese King Raja Singha I (1581–93) of Sitawaka, which forced the Portuguese to go back to Galle. At Galle, they initially built a small fort out of palm trees and mud. They called it the Santa Cruz, and later extended it with a watch tower and three bastions and a "fortalice" to guard the harbour.


In 1640, the events took a turn with the Dutch entering the fray joining hands with King Rajasinhe II to capture the Galle Fort. The Dutch, with a force of some 2,500 men under Koster, captured the fort from the Portuguese in 1640 itself. Although not an ideal situation for the Sinhalese, they were instrumental in building the fort as seen in its present form in the Dutch architectural style. Fortifications continued to be built until the early 18th century. The establishment built consisted of public administration buildings, warehouses and business houses and residential quarters. A Protestant church (planned by Abraham Anthonisz) was also built in baroque style in 1775 to cater to the colonists and the local people who were converted to Christianity. The most prominent buildings in the fort complex were the Commandant's residence, the arsenal and the gun house. Other buildings erected in the fort catered to trade and defense requirements such as workshops for forgings, carpentry, smithy, rope making and so forth. They also built an elaborate system of sewers that were flooded at high tide, taking the sewage away to sea.

The British took over the fort on 23 February 1796, one week after Colombo was captured. Sri Lanka remained a British colony formally from 1815 till it became an independent island nation in 1948. In 1865, part of the fort was converted into the New Oriental Hotel, becoming the Amangalla in 2005. The importance of Galle also declined after the British developed Colombo as their capital and main port in the mid nineteenth century.

Specific details

Opening Hours 24 hours
Local Guide Available Yes
Entrance Tickets Required No
Restaurant Available Yes
Parking Available Yes
Duration 2hours
Hotels Nearby Yes
Wheelchair accessible Yes

Location

Galle , Gale District, Sri Lanka

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