Galle Fort is built on a small rocky peninsula extending into the sea and comprises 130 acres surrounded by massive ramparts. Although originally built by the Portuguese in the mid 16th century (hence our name Fortaleza) the ramparts and many of the grand houses were built by the Dutch who captured the Fort in 1640. The British then took over in 1796 and also left their mark on its remarkable architecture.
Many of the buildings fell into various stages of disrepair in the post war (WW2) period, although the Fort was still a busy, tight-knit community with over 400 houses, schools, churches, mosques, lawyers and accountants offices and various government buildings, including the law courts.
Today, Galle Fort is a UNESCO Heritage Site and well deserving of the accolade. Since the Tsunami in 2004 which left the Fort undamaged due to the ramparts, there have been substantial renovations, which have accelerated over the last several years
In many ways the influx of tourists and new investment is sad; the once sleepy community, with goats and chickens wandering amidst the crumbling grandeur, has lost a little of its charm and the speed of change has left some of the local community wishing for the old days. Nevertheless, the combination of very high quality renovations and tight planning controls have begun to restore the Fort to its former glory and it remains one of the most atmospheric and impressive places in Sri Lanka.
As the renewal continues, there is plenty to see and do with new shops, boutiques and restaurants popping up regularly. But it is still the dawn or sunset stroll along the ramparts that is the really magical experience, especially if you are lucky enough to see the navy cadets marching band making its way around the perimeter road, or the local boys diving from the ramparts into impossibly small sea pools.
We look forward to advising you on what to see and where to go in this exceptional jewel of the Indian Ocean.