Galle was once Sri Lanka’s gateway to the world and a thriving international port trading gems, jewelry, spices and luxury goods. A meeting place of nations and cultures, the Dutch Fort is Galle’s crowning glory.
The fort was first built by the Portuguese and later renovated and restructured by the Dutch. It was a trusted enclave surrounded on three sides by the Indian Ocean. Once a cornerstone of the Dutch administration and trade in Colonial Ceylon, the fort has become a potpourri of cultures, languages and crafts today.
Most of the Dutch era buildings at the fort have now been converted into boutiques trading gems, jewellery, antiques and silk while the Old Dutch Hospital, which once treated soldiers and officials is now a restored dining and shopping complex, where people of the world, wine, dine and trade with the locals just as they had done a few centuries back.
The National Maritime Museum near the old gate of the Galle Fort is located in a renovated old Dutch warehouse, which once stored cinnamon and is now home to over 21 historical shipwrecks some as old as 800 years, as well as maps, naval crafts, ropes, earthenware, beer mugs, smoking pipes, barrels and vast amounts of articles including artillery guns and sailor shoes.
A bike ride or a walk through the Galle Fort is the best way to explore the labyrinth of streets that crisscross the Fort still carrying the names given to them centuries ago after the inhabitants of each street.