The Galle Fort, the Portuguese built fort, but later the Dutch took over from them, at the end the British decided it was their turn. There is a pretty little town inside it predominantly Dutch. Tuk tuk drivers offer to take you side for a hefty fee, but exploring by foot is the best activity.
The Galle cricket stadium is right outside the fort. This stadium has hosted a number of matches, but sadly does not anymore. But there are local matches played. During the Indian ocean tsunami in 2004, the stadium was covered with sea water. People took higher grounds, mostly in the upper portion of the bus station until rescue came. However, it did not effect the fort.
I spent the whole day journeying to Galle. The first thing you will see after exiting the Galle train station is the Galle International cricket stadium. After exiting the station, I had lunch at a cafe. I left my bags there, and went for a walk inside the fort.
Inside this UNESCO World Heritage site is about 400 houses, churches, mosques, government buildings, narrow brick streets, Dutch and Portuguese architecture, a fort that can be explored by foot. It is the best preserved fort that people still live in that I visited.
Main Gate and the Fort Walls
There is only one known entrance tourists use, you enter through the gate to a quaint little town inside the fort walls. The sea surrounds the Galle Fort, and so it makes it a natural defense. The walls give scenic views.
The narrow streets has many shops, cafes. The streets had Dutch names, but now it is changed to English names. Moorse Kramerstraat is named after Peddler Street after the Muslim moors, Zeeburgstraat for Lighthouse Street, Leyenbahnstraat for Leyn Baan Street.
This is the most scenic point of the fort I must say. A small patch of beach, and all the different colors. Walk further on the fort walls, and you will find another place in the fort called the Flag Rock. You can see it in the below picture, where the people are crammed. Some daredevils do jump off the rock to the water below.
Point Utrecht Bastion and Lighthouse
This point is one of the nicest, it has the sea on one side, and the town on the other. It is in the South East walls. At the end of the bastion is the light house which is 59 feet tall. The authorities built it in 1938 It still signals ships in the high sees today.
Meeran mosque is the biggest mosque here, and is almost 300 years old. Though the fort is small, there is a big Muslim population. The mosque is white in color on the exterior, and the interior has many nice rooms with nice glass work, high ceilings, chandelier, and all.
Groote Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church)
It is a Protestant church, and one of the oldest church in Sri Lanka. The Dutch built it in 1755. The glasswork has nice colors on it, and the floor is of some tombstones laid like bricks. After this church, you can also visit the All Saints Church. It is 146 years old, and has many artwork on it too.
National Maritime Archaeology Museum
This is a Dutch styled building that has really old things like maps, guns, artillery, old machines that could kill things back then. This is an old building too that the Dutch built in 1671. It has artifacts from the subcontinent, Sri Lanka, China, and Europe. The boat model is quite exciting to see. There are also lead bullets, patrol crafts, fake ancient people.
The Dutch built the clocktower in 1883 in recognition of Dr. Anthonisz, a Dutch doctor. It is on the Moon Bastion, also visible from outside the gates. When I visited in March 2016, the clock tower they were repairing it. Nonetheless, it is four storey high and looks majestic.
Other Things At Galle Fort
There are many things you can watch out for here
Tea at Former Dutch Hospital
There are lot of tea cafes where you could buy pack of tea, or drink tea. The Dutch hospital is a nice place to unwind after a long walk. Both Sri Lankan and western food is available in the fort, plenty places for it.
Cliff jumpers jump off the walls of the fort into the warm water below. You can see them jump, but sometimes you may have to pay to see it. Many tourists cliff jump here too.
Bridal Photo Shoots
The Dutch Fort walls is pretty enough for bridal photo shoots. Many photo shoots happen here everyday. I got to see one too.
Galle Literature Festival
I never attended this, but the annual literature festival at Galle attracts a lot of people. Check out the website to sign up.
Getting to Galle
The Colombo to Galle is one of the most popular. There are lot of buses and trains to Galle. Trains can get quite full, and you will have to wait a long time to find a seat. I was unable to find a direct train from Kandy, so I took a train from there to Colombo, and another one from Colombo to Galle.
So it is important to inform yourself before making a journey, or else you may spend a lot of time figuring out your journey than making it.
From here you can take a bus to Unawatuna, or continue your journey by train to Matara, another beach town.