The capital of the southern province is a city with a colourful history. UNESCO declared World Heritage Site the magnificent Dutch fort is the most popular attraction of the town. 300 year old Dutch atmosphere is still very much alive around the fort and amidst its many historical buildings.The southern coastal belt is the most popular among the tourists and comes to life mainly from October through April when the monsoon moves northeast and the sea becomes calm with blue skies. The earliest European administrative centre of Sri Lanka was the major port and the largest city until the British shifted the port to Colombo. The City of Galle had been the European administrative centre over 4 centuries.Galle, the main city and port on the south coast, retains a romantic, old-world atmosphere within its Dutch fort. In fact, Galle is considered to be Sri Lanka’s most historically interesting city still functioning.
It began to assume importance after a Portuguese fleet arrived accidentally in 1505. The story goes that on hearing a cock (gallus in Portuguese) crowing on their arrival, the Portuguese gave the town its name. Indeed, the harbor is strewn with rocks, some above but many below the water, a factor that made it quite dangerous for shipping in earlier times. Nevertheless, until the construction of breakwaters at the Colombo port was completed in 1875, Galle remained the island’s major port.Two entry points to the fort: main gate & old gateThe Main Gate was built by the British in 1873 to handle the heavier traffic into the old city. This part of the wall, most heavily fortified with massive ramparts facing the landside was riginally built by the Portuguese with moat & drawbridge & was substantially enlarged by the Dutch, who in 1667 split it into separate Star, Moon & Sun Bastions. The clock tower is quite modern & usually has a huge national flag flying from it.The Old gate is on the Queen Street. The arch on the Fort side of the gate is inscribed with the coat of arms of VOC (Vereenigde Oost Indische Campagnie), showing two lions holding a crest topped by the inevitable cockerel), while the arch on the exterior, port-facing side is decorated with the British crest, “Dieu et mon droit”, & the date 1669