Galle Fort is the symbolic representation of Galle. It is situated in the bay of Galle on the southwest coast in Sri Lanka. The multicultural community in Galle fort covering over 52 hectares speaks volumes for the colonization in old Sri Lanka. Galle Fort is also one of the seven sites enlisted under UNESCO heritages in Sri Lanka.
Portuguese captured Galle harbor from Sinhalese king in 1587 and erected a fortress around it as one massive wall with inbuilt watch posts and guard rooms. This fortress built by Portuguese is known as “Black Fort”. In 1940, Dutch waged a ferocious war against Portuguese by equipping 12 ships with 2000 soldiers and captured Galle Fort. The war had lasted for four days and won on 3rd, March in 1640.Dutch then upgraded the fort to an immense fortress by connecting 16 bastions and established a well-developed city. Afterward, British gained the authority of Galle Fort by signing a contract in 1795.
The biggest building in Galle Fort is the store room of Dutch. A partition of the upper floor of this two storey building had been reserved for a convent in Dutch era. Opposite to it is a bell tower erected in 1701.
In the fort, there is a Buddhist temple, an Old Dutch church, an Anglican cathedral built in 1871 and an Islamic Mosque pervading the cultural blend. The building known as “Queen’s House” was once the house for Dutch and British governors. The first lighthouse in Sri Lanka was installed in Galle Fort by British in 1886. It was burnt to ashes in 1937, yet the street near the area where the lighthouse was located is still known as Lighthouse Street.
From time immemorial the major port in Sri Lanka, Galle harbor, and its surrounding were regarded as a territory with remarkable archeological significance. The ocean in the vicinity of the harbor and the fort is abundant with maritime ruins with the identification of 26 places including a few where some Dutch ships had been wrecked.
The three museums in the fort are,
All these three are located in Galle Fort. The two Maritime Museums are situated in the building which was once a storage complex in the Dutch Era. The other one is situated 150m away from these two museums.
There are a plenty of boutiques in the fort selling traditional Sri Lankan Handicrafts, clothing and precious stones. The Dutch hospital in the bygone era is now a lucrative shopping complex catering to the needs of the tourists. Being on the top of the fortress and looking at the purple glow of the descending sun is a moment of euphoria heightened by the winds coming from the Indian Ocean.
The unique architecture, narrow alleys lying between the high walls and massive buildings with iron doors in Galle Fort pass a trajectory from nowadays to the colonial era.