Galle Dutch Fort Sri Lanka
Galle Dutch 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 onward. 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. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.
Galle is a must-see in Sri Lanka. Looking for the best things to do in Galle Fort, Sri Lanka? Discover famous attractions, historic sites, sunset viewpoints, and the best food with our comprehensive Galle Fort must do list!
Archaeology Of Galle Fort
The Dutch Fort in Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers. Take an exciting walk through this heritage site that boasts of a colorful history. Observe the many sites such as the Old Gate with the British Coat-of-Arms inscribed on it, the Old Dutch Hospital, the ramparts that run around the fortress with its excellent view of the ocean, the clock tower built in 1882, the light house built in 1939,the many bastions – each made for a specific purpose, Dutch colonial style houses with gables and verandas, the Dutch Reformed Church built in 1640, the New Oriental Hotel, originally built in 1694, the National Maritime Museum and more.
Culture & Cafe
Today, the Galle Fort area is unlike any other place we’ve found in Sri Lanka, a vaguely European-feeling city plonked in the deliciously salty tropics, a melting pot of culture and religion bursting with color, and where, thankfully, the taste of Ceylon tea and cinnamon is never far away.
Galle Fort is rapidly gentrifying as chic boutiques, cafes, and hotels begin to restore the whitewashed Dutch colonial buildings back to their former glory, but it only takes ducking down a quiet lane way to feel as though you’ve travelling back to the 1700s again.
Alluring, exotic, and totally lovely, Galle Fort is one of the unmissable points of interest on your holiday in Sri Lanka.
We’d recommend staying at least two nights to get a good feel of the historic area and the daily life which still operates within it, before moving onto the southern beaches including Unawatuna or Hikkaduwa – although however long you stay, you’ll have no trouble enjoying all the wonderful things to do in Galle.
Galle Fort Lighthouse
Framed by palm trees and postcard-perfect; if you only do one thing in Galle, it has to be visiting the beautiful Galle Lighthouse and admiring the most instantly recognizable feature of the Fort.
This beautiful white lighthouse dates back to 1848, (although the current structure was rebuilt in 1939), and stands on the walls of the ancient Galle Fort, guiding the safe passage of ships into Galle Harbor.
The lighthouse is still very much in use, although it now has another, secondary role, as prop to those wanting the perfect Sri Lankan beach photos
Walk The Outer Walls Of Gall Fort
If you’re up for exploring each and every corner of Galle Fort’s outer walls, you can follow the ‘Fort Walk’, starting at the historic Clock Tower, before moving onto the Main Gate, heading south into the interior of the Fort, passing the Dutch Reform Church until you reach the western section’s restored Dutch Hospital.
From there, continue south towards the famous Galle Lighthouse, before following the walls to Meeran Mosque, Flag Rock and Triton Bastion. The walk finishes at Star Bastion overlooking the northern coast towards Hikkaduwa.
Along the way, spot locals playing cricket, eat one of the many tasty street food options (wade, a fried lentil snack is our fave!), and cool off in one of the many inner fort bars.
Art Galleries, Workshops & Shopping
There are literally hundreds of boutiques, art galleries, spice and gem stores, and handicrafts dotted throughout Galle Fort, being the epicenter of the action. We definitely think the best shopping in Sri Lanka is within the walls of Galle Fort, so if you’re looking for a bargain, this is your place.
The central fish market situated almost on the beach itself and if it’s an early morning expedition, then you can witness the fresh catch being brought in. Be awed by the vast variety of fish, crabs, lobsters, shrimp and even shark. Take your pick in any quantity you want, cleaned and sliced for convenience.