The city of Galle, located in the south of Sri Lanka, preserves the most beautiful colonial historical center of the country. Galle is a fortified city built by Europeans and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage since 1988.
This walled city was highly fortified by the Dutch during its colonial era from 1650. It was previously a Portuguese city! and … then used by the English. Galle has two parts, the new town, and the walled fortification. In the old part of Galle, you can surround the city above the wall leaving the town on one side and the crystalline waters on the other.
The city of Galle is small, about 100,000 inhabitants, and almost all live in the new part of the town. So if you want to eat or sleep cheaply, you have to go to the new city.
#MacroTravellerTips: Rent a scooter to visit the surroundings more freely. Do not be surprised if the fishermen, famous in the area, ask you for money for posing 😉
What makes Galle such a unique city?
If you are passionate about history like me, you will find the origins of Galle very interesting, which are involved in a multitude of legends. Galle was known as the ancient port of Tarshish, of which King Solomon imported ivory, peacocks, and cinnamon.
One of the theories about the origin of its name says that it comes from Gimhathitha, which means “port near the Gin River,” and later as Gaala, which in Sinhala is the place where cattle gather.
Another theory, although less credible, says that Galle comes from the Portuguese “Gallic,” since the Portuguese sailors were surprised to see and hear so many roosters sing in this place.
What to see How to enjoy Galle?
Forget the rush and the emblematic places to go through the list and live Galle at your own pace while building your own unique experience. That’s why I changed the title to “how to enjoy Galle,” so you can taste it as it deserves.
Then I tell you what we saw and live for you to be inspired by your journey through the old walls of this city. We started by browsing the fish market stalls in the eastern part of the city, where we found lots of seafood and fish of all sizes and colors from these tropical waters.
Once again, we were surprised again by the kindness of the locals, who with a smile allowed me to take pictures in all the stalls while they asked me where I was from (it’s fantastic how soccer teams help put cities on the map …).
From there you can walk along the entire Marine Walk, trying to figure out the meaning of its strange monuments and seeing how the sailors rest on their boats after a long night of fishing out to sea.
The main attraction of Galle is its fort, a vestige of the colonial past of Ceylon (former name of Sri Lanka) and the largest fortress built by Europeans in Asia. After arriving by scooter to the fortification enclosure, I continued on foot, since the place is not very extensive. I loved taking a walk around the fort. It is the largest built by Europeans in Asia. It is very curious that they used corals to lift the walls, instead of stones. There are always people walking around the wall, even on rainy days.
It is much more pleasant to walk on foot through those old alleys, some of which still house old buildings. Among them, I advise you to visit the old hospital, the court, and the Dutch church.
Sooner or later you will find one of its main attractions:
Old Lighthouse: The oldest in all of Sri Lanka, dating back to 1848. At your feet, you will see a small beach in which to take a dip in its transparent waters. It is the perfect place to give yourself a well-deserved rest after kicking the fort for hours, do not you think?
Meeran Jumma Masjid Mosque: You will be surprised to know that within the white walls of this ancient church, today is the main Mosque of Galle. Sri Lanka is a unique example of how religions as different as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism can coexist peacefully in the same space.
All Saints Church: The Anglican Church of All Saints, with a colorful Victorian style adapted to this tropical climate.
Groote Kerk: Church built in 1682 by Dutch reformers, which occupies the highest place within the fort, 12 meters above sea level.
Clock Tower: Located in the Bastion of the Moon, it was built thanks to the donations of the patients of Dr. Anthonisz, a doctor of the XIX century, to whom this tower is dedicated.
Maritime Archaeological Museum: It is the successor of the National Maritime Museum, destroyed by the 2004 tsunami and where 80% of its collection of antiquities was lost. The current museum opened its doors in 2010 with financial help from the Netherlands.
Old Dutch Hospital: One of the oldest buildings that remain in the Fort. Today, instead of doctors and patients, it is frequented by people from all over the world who come to enjoy the shops and restaurants that have opened within this structure.
If you know me, you will know that I do not miss the opportunity to enjoy and photograph a sunset, and in Galle, there is no shortage of places to contemplate this spectacle of nature.
Do you want to visit Galle? – #MacroTravellerTips
Remember to schedule one more day in your visit so that you do not regret, like other travelers, for not having spent more time in this quiet town.
If you have questions, doubts or have already been here and want to share your experience, the comments are all yours.