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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Galle Fort

About Galle Fort

It is home to great number of remarkably well preserved Dutch VOC buildings. It is also the best example of a Fortified European settlement in South Asia.

Though Galle gets its fame from the more recent past, its history streaches back into ancient times where it was a well known port for middle eastern traders, and appears in Ptolemy's map dating back to the year 150 (During the Anuradhapura Kingdom . Read more about Anuradhapura here). Below is Ptolemy's map of the world, where I have circled Sri Lanka.

The fort reched its peak during the Dutch period in the 18th Century where it was home to around 500 families.

For those interested in learning more about its history visit the UNESCO website - and the following website -

Galle Fort : Location

The city of Galle is located 116KM South of the capital Colombo. The map below shows its location on the South-western coast line of Sri Lanka.


Galle Fort : How to get there

By Road

Hiring a car with a driver or if you feel confident enough (not recommended) self drive is the best way to travel around Sri Lanka, a car with a driver is not very expensive and can be hired including the fuel for $90 upwards depending on where you look. This would be the most convenient way, as you can make as many stops as you like, and have some local knowledge to hand.

There are two routes to Galle, one is through the newly built E01 High way, which will take you around 1.5 hours from Colombo or the other which is coastal A2 road, this route can take anywhere from 2.5-4 hours depending on the time of day you travel, and how many stops you make along the route, these I will cover in another article.

For those of you who don't want to waste time and want to get to Galle or who are on a tight schedule then the Highway is the best option.

For everyone else the coastal route is the better option for views and other points of interest to stop at.

While I have recommended Car travel, during my own travels in Sri Lanka I have met with groups of backpackers who rented mopeds or scooters and took to the roads with GPS or road maps. Might be an option for the more adventurous lot.

Below map shows you the coastal route to Galle.

View Larger Map

By Bus

If you are travelling to Galle from Colombo, then there are many options for you to take when it comes to buses, as well as fare types. You can get luxury, semi luxury, standard buses from the Colombo Central bus station as well as Intercity express and Highway buses (coaches).

It would probably be fast to take Luxury Express highway buses, as these will get you to Galle the fastest and are said to be the most comfortable mode.

Bus fares are not that high, the express bus journey from Colombo to Galle would set you back aroung $4 one way.

All of the following routes will take you to Galle from Colombo Fort bus station, 02, 26, 32, 60. All these routes are available in the Luxury, Semi and Standard modes.

There is a great app that every traveller who wishes to take buses around the country should have on their phone (available on android)

Bus journey on standard would set you back around $1 - $2

By Train

I found a great website that gives you general information on Train travel in Sri Lanka

The following link provides a timetable of trains from Colombo to Galle including the fares.

Fare from Colombo to Galle would cost around $1-$3 depending on the type of class you choose. - Galle - Matara

Below is a video of what to expect of train travel in Sri Lanka.


Galle Fort : What to see

Extensive restoration work has been done on the old fort. When I stepped into the Fort in Jan 2013, I felt as if I had entered a whole different world. Its like talking a walk through time, as well as a feeling that your in a whole different place, what I mean is that life seems much quieter and calmer inside the fort in comparison the rest of Galle. A short yet to the point video that I found on YouTube that is informative.

I have found an excellent presentation put together which details all of the important sites one should visit in the fort. For those of you who are interested in guided walking tours of the Galle Fort, check out my article -

Exploring the Fort would take a good full day, below are points of interest that I would recommend that one should visit
  1. The old Dutch entrance
  2. All Saints Anglican Church
  3. Historical Mansion Museum
  4. Archaeological Museum Galle Fort
  5. Post Office
  6. The Ramparts
  7. Maritime Archeology Museum
  8. Meera Mosque
  9. Clock Tower
  10. Dutch Government House
  11. Galle Fort Lighthouse
  12. Dutch Reformed Church
  13. Galle Fort's colonial streets
  14. Galle Fort Library
  15. Court Complex
  16. Police Barracks
Below is a Map of where all of the above are located

View Galle in a larger map

The above map also features a route that you should take going around the Fort, I suggest you start off at the main entrance, which is located within close proximity to the clock tower, I have marked this on the map as your first point. I then recommend that you walk along the wall, there are many good photo opps along the wall, both of the inner fort and of the Indian Ocean.

I would recommend that you start early in the morning, around 8am, this will give you ample time to explore most of the important places. That said the fort is a good place to spend a few days at.

I have marked on the map in green, way points which you should follow. Finish off the morning with a drink at one of the many cafes dotted around the fort, you are never too far away from any of them. I would recommend that you pop into the serendiptity arts cafe and say hello to Juliet! She is a very interesting lady to say the least! As mentioned above they offer fully guided tours of the fort, which would include detailed historical facts as well as being able to see things you would not have seen had you gone it alone.

A little further up from the cafe is the Historical House Museum, this is a treasure trove of ancient artefacts collected by one passionate person. Best part is its free to all. I met with the creators son, who currently runs the place on his fathers behalf, admire the rich historical wealth at the museum, probably the only free privately owned museum in Sri Lanka.


Galle Fort : When to go

If you are heading to Galle to experience the fort and the historical sights, then there is actually no bad time to go, perhaps avoid the south western monsoon season. The best weather is in August, then between October to late April.

Website with more information on the weather in Galle and useful information for travellers.

Galle Fort : Where to eat

coming soon

Galle Fort : Where to stay

coming soon
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