Culture & History of Galle

Galle is Sri Lanka’s fourth largest city that boasts an interesting history. It is home to nearly 80,000 people and is one of the most charming places to visit while exploring the island.

It all began in 1505 when the Portuguese took shelter in the port of Galle. On their way to Maldives, the Portuguese fleet was blown off course by a storm to Galle. This was a significant event that took place in the history of Galle as well as the country. The people of this great city fought against the foreign invaders therefore the Portuguese had to gain power by force.

The Portuguese constructed a small fort in 1598, which entirely demolished when the Dutch took over in 1640.
It was the Dutch who built the current 36-hectare Fort that is visible in the beautiful city of Galle which is today marked as a World Heritage Site.

During British rule, the Galle fort was very well preserved and was used as Galle’s administrative centre. However, it is believed that Galle has been an important port even before western rule. It was with the Portuguese entering the port under Lourenço de Almeida that the modern history of Galle began. Early history reveals that Indians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Arabs and even Persians have been trading goods through this port.  

An important masterpiece from the history of Galle is the Dutch Reform Church. It was built in 1640 and services are still held each week. The special feature of the church which is the original pipe organ is still on display.

The cultural changes that took place during colonial rule are still visible in Galle and has evolved to become part of every day life. For better or for worse, these changes have immensely contributed to the modern city of Galle which is a major tourist attraction.

 
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