galle

A picturesque harbour town that serves as the capital of the Southern Province, Galle is a colourful historic area to visit and explore.  Although a prominent seaport long before Western influence, its modern historical period began in 1505, when a Portuguese ship took shelter there from a storm and stayed on to take charge of the town. It was then taken control of by the Dutch East India Company in 1640, and then the British in 1796. Since independence, the town’s administration has managed to largely preserve its quaint Dutch colonial architecture and cobbled streets. It currently plays host to a lively art scene, a plethora of great dining options, as well as the annual Galle Literary Festival (will be held on March 13-17 in 2013).

Attractions

  • Dutch Fort- a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fort was originally built by the Portuguese to keep out attacks from the Sri Lankan kingdoms, and was completely rebuilt/ fortified by the Dutch in 1667. It is the largest existing colonial fortress in Asia, and is not only well maintained but still houses the National Maritime Museum (entrance Rs300, open 9am- 5pm, Wednesday- Saturday) and some government offices. Don’t miss out on a walk around the fort’s ramparts at sunset!
  • Dutch Reformed Church – Also known as the Groote Kerk, the current structure dates to 1755 and is paved with gravestones from the Old Dutch cemetery. Look out for the well-preserved organ from the 18th C. (Open from 9am- 5pm)
  • St Mary’s Cathedral – Built by Belgian Jesuits in the late 19th century, the church is a town landmark in the Baroque Revival style, and plays a key role in the diocese.
  • Unawatuna – barely 5kms away from Galle’s city centre, Una is a gorgeous crescent shaped beach with great seafood, gently lapping water and a vivacious party scene. Definitely a tourist favorite! Best visited “on season”, between Nov- Feb or July- Sept.

Accommodation (basic prices per night)

  • Amangalla : +94 91 2233 388 ($300)
  • Closenberg : +94 91 2224313 ($70)
  • Cantaloupe Aqua : +94 91 7500 200
  • Deco on 44 : + 94 91 2225 773 ($130)
  • Galle Fort Hotel : +94 91 2232 870 ($150)
  • Jetwing Lighthouse : +94 91 2223 744 ($200)
  • Leijay Resort : +94 91 2227 390 ($25)
  • Seagreen Guesthouse : +94 91 2242 754 ($15)

Dining

  • Crepe-ology - 53 Leyn Baan Street. +94 91 2234 777
  • Café Punto - 42 Pedlar Street. +94 77 7599 994
  • The Fort Printers - 39 Pedlar Street. +94 91 2247 977
  • Pedlar’s Inn Café - 92 Pedlar Street. +94 77 3141 477
  • The Old Railway Café - 42 Havelock Place. +94 77 6263 400
  • Mama’s Galle Fort Roof Café - 76 Leyn Baan Street. +94 77 3206 755
  • Serendipity Arts Café - 100 Pedlar Street. +94 77 9525 602

Shopping

  • Barefoot - 41 Pedlar Street
  • Church Street Gallery - 35 Church Street
  • Elephant Walk - 30 Church Street
  • Exotic Roots - 32 Church Street
  • Laksana - 30 Hospital Street
  • Olanda - 30 Leyn Baan Street
  • Suthuvili Gallery - 56 Leyn Baan Street
  • The Old Railway - 42 Havelock Road

125 km from Colombo, Galle is now easily accessible within 1hour 50mins via the Southern expressway. You can either rent a car and drive down, or take the Express Bus from Maharagama (2 hours), or the train from Fort Station (4hours).

 

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