Galle, the old colonial city of charming has become one of the prominent tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.
A beach town no tourist want to miss in their holiday in Sri Lanka. A glorious historical city with a UNESCO world heritage site with old secrets trapped in its walls.
Located on the south coast of Sri Lanka, Galle is a city tucked with exotic colonial buildings, an old port, outstanding landmarks and beautiful coastline with golden sand stretch. Let’s explore the history of this charming city that hides amazing stories of the past.
Early history of Galle
The earliest written historical record of Galle runs back to the 1st century. Appeared as a harbour even back in the days on Claudius Ptolemy’s map, Galle showcases its importance to the logistic affairs in the region. After that Galle has appeared on many records and report of ancient explorers and traders including Egyptian Cosmas Indicopleustes, Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta and Chinese Admiral Zhen presenting providing evidence to be dazzled harbour of the region at the time.
Exporting spices, elephant tasks, rare gems and more, Galle became one of the biggest market centers in the region and the most important harbour of Sri Lanka by the 14th century.
Europeans in Sri Lanka
With the arrival of European nations to the Asia, it took no time for them to understand the importance of Galle after seen Galle for the first time which led few nations to war in order to capture the trade monopoly of Galle harbour at any cost.
Portuguese in Galle
As the first European nation discovered the Asia, Portuguese took actions to take the monopoly of the port of Galle from moors the trade rival of Europeans, who were mainly doing import and export trade at the time in the Asian region. Portuguese captured Galle in 1587 and built a small fort in 1597.
They were able to keep Galle under their power for over a half century until the Dutch discovered Sri Lanka and its natural harbour in Galle.
Dutch in Galle
After winning a fierce combat against Portuguese in 1640, the city of Galle and its port becomes Dutch’s treasure in the Indian region. As Galle was one of the most important shipping hubs for Dutch ships in the Indies, a huge and formidable fort covering 52 hectares with 30 meters (100ft) up to 120 meters (400ft) thick walls was built by the Dutch in Galle which you can still witness in your visit to the Galle.
British in Galle
After the British captured Sri Lanka from the Dutch, Englishmen took control of Galle but after 1800 the importance of the Galle harbour faded away as the small port had no enough space to berth the large ships of the British had. As a result, the busy Galle declined. Lack of logistic importance leads the city to ruins fast.
Though it loses its luster as a harbour, Galle continued to be the British’s southern administrative center.
Galle and its people thought what’s unfortunate were invasions and foreign governance until the devastating Tsunami wave swept the southern region causing more than 35000 deaths loosing homes for more than 3 million locals in the area. Although there is almost no evidence of the disaster today Tsunami monument near Hikkaduwa is a place worth a visit where a train washed away to the sea with more than 1000 of lives.
Modern Galle as a tourist’s attraction today
From the British era to the independence until the modern day, Galle has preserved its unique southern traditions and customs and evolved and built as a delightful city despite all the unfortunate invasions and battles of other nations. Today Galle is a charming and one of the most welcoming tourist’s attraction in Sri Lanka standing strongly more than ever with its unique southern authenticity hiding its losses.
With all the interaction of the foreign nations in the past combined with the Sri Lankan southern culture have added an elegant cultural mix to the city. The elegantly restored colonial building, ruins of solitude fort of Dutch’s and other historical buildings, modern fancy restaurants and shopping outlets that still has the colonial ambience and the fleet of luxury hotels in Galle that are ready to pamper you with opulence along with its stunning nearby beach spots makes Galle a small paradise within a paradise.
Galle is a beach town in Sri Lanka packed with interesting monuments and ruins that tell a compulsive story worth exploring. Start planning your days in Galle with us by finding more about our Galle tours