What to See in Galle
Founded in the 16th century, this town was overtaken by Portuguese seamen washed ashore by a storm. It was called Point de Galle, when the Dutch took over in 1640 with the Dutch East India Company. The British arrived in the 18th century and took over the fortified city that the Dutch had built.
Today the Galle Fort is still alive and vibrant and a great place to visit. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and thus sees a fair amount of tourist traffic. On the southern tip of the island of Sri Lanka, there is also a great beach close by at Unawatuna.Read More
The Dutch Fort
This is a primary attraction. Walking around the Fort’s Ramparts is a good early morning excursion. This is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by Europeans. Any time later in the day you are likely to be accosted by salesmen and women selling everything from linen like lace doilies to silverware. Occasionally you will even come across young lovers hidden in the crevices of the fort. Most of them hide their faces the minute they see you!
The Dutch Reformed Church
The church was originally built by an army officer serving with the Dutch. The church was completed in 1754. Old headstones were shifted here from older graveyards that were closed in 1710 and 1804. There is a pipe organ with manual bellows inside the church, but it is no longer serviceable. An old caretaker lives onsite and will be happy to show you around. There are also underground tunnels running from the church to the Governor’s House. It is located next to the New Oriental Hotel.
The Galle Lighthouse
The lighthouse on Point Utrecht bastion is also a popular sightseeing spot. It was completed in 1939 and stands 18 metres high. It was built not by the Dutch but by the British, who were by then the chief power to reckon with in Galle. It is to be found on the eastern end of the Fortress walls. The lighthouse keeper runs a gem store next door. So if you can get his permission you can climb to the top of the lighthouse to get a spectacular view of the sea and the land.
The Historical Mansion Museum
There is a private museum in Galle called the Historical Mansion Museum, which has no entry fee and has amazing British memorabilia. Featuring maps, guns and artifacts this place is great to visit if you are a history buff. Located on 31-39 Leyn Bann Street, it even has demonstrations of lace making and other traditional crafts on display. The museum has a gems shop in the back as well, so you can pick up some souvenirs there if you like. It is an interesting experience.
Temples and Mosques
There are a number of Buddhist temples around that you can visit including the Peace Pagoda. Then you can also visit the Meeran Jumma Masjid which is a mosque in the Arab Quarter of the fort. You'd be excused for thinking it’s a church, as the only difference is that the domes have crescents on top instead of crosses. Original construction was done in 1750 but portions underwent reconstruction in the 20th century as well.