The capital of the southern province is a city with a colorful 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 not invaded by the skyscrapers. The beautiful beach of Unawatuna is just 6km south east of the city centre.
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.
Interesting Places to Visit:
Portuguese built the first fort to withstand attack from the Sri Lankan kingdoms to the north. Dutch who captured the coastal cities from the Portuguese improved the defence system of the fort, widening the moat on the landside, improving the ramparts and the bastions. British who captured the city did not make many changes as they shifted the part to the northern town of Colombo and therefore the atmosphere of Dutch days are preserved to date. The Dutch entrance to the fort with it VOC with 1669 carved in the inner archway is still in use. Still there are many old Dutch buildings intact and, but unfortunately except for those in the private hands. The ramparts and the bastions still bring to life the old world.
Dutch Reformed Church
Built by a Dutch Army officer at the site of a previous Portuguese church and completed in 1754 the church is situated close to the new entrance to the fort. The church contains record of marriages since 1748 and baptism from 1678. The other significant of the building id there are no pillars inside the building and the weight of the roof is supported by the walls.
For a peep into life in the days of the Dutch East India Company, look into this small museum at 31 Leynbaan Street. Housed in a restored Dutch mansion of the time, it contains paintings, prints, documents, furniture and ceramics from the Dutch colonial era.
New Oriental Hotel
Built in 1684 as the official headquarters of the Dutch Governor, this elegant building became an inn for Dutch merchants and officers in the early 18th century, making it Sri Lanka’s oldest hotel. The ghosts of former residents seem to linger around the elegantly faded old bar and billiard room. Somerset Maugham would have felt at home here, and it’s the ideal place for a refreshing drink after walking round the ramparts.
Ahangama / Midigama
Home to a unique type of fishing technique. Silt fishing is a popular fishing method in the area and a very beautiful scenery to watch especially during sunset. Ahangama is also a popular surfing location and relatively less crowded than the surfing location to the north.
Hometown of a famous local writer Martin Wickramasinghe. The museum of Folk, Art & Culture built in his honour at his old residence has an excellent display of local folk items. They include the costumes of folk dancers, sports items, household items and furniture and vast arena of the folk life of the early 20th century. Take a boat trip in the lagoon and Kogggala Lake to see many of its small islands, which is a popular destination for bird watching.
Galle and the Southwest
The coast south of Colombo is Sri Lanka’s most popular holiday resort area, with fine beaches of golden sand lined with coconut palms, where traditional outrigger canoes are still hauled up in front of gloaming new holiday hotels favored by visitors from northern Europe and Asia. Yet, attractive as these resorts are, Sri Lanka has experienced nothing like the tourism explosion that has rocked so many tropical dream destinations, and there are still miles of uncrowned coastline to explore, while within a few kilometers of the resorts tourism has had little impact. The beaches are the biggest attraction of this part of the island, but the region has more to offer than lounging beneath the palms. Inshore, there are easily accessible coral gardens. Offshore, there are some excellent dive sites, both on reefs and around wrecks. Inland, the Sinharaja Biosphere Reserve takes visitors deeper into the unchanged virgin forest.