Galle, on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, is around a four-hour drive from capital Colombo. Its Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a bustling place enclosed by ramparts where locals gather at sunset to fly kites, play cricket, and stroll to the lighthouse. The narrow, cobbled streets house laid back cafes, boutique hotels, and artisan workshops. Outside the fort’s walls are long stretches of beach backed by coconut palms and lush hillsides.
Today’s town has grown greatly and spreads into the surroundings but the Fort is the slow beating heart of Galle‘s history. The walled city has stood since the early sixteenth century, through the Colonial periods of the Portuguese, Dutch and British and in our present times is proclaimed as an Archaeological Reserve and has been identified as a living World Heritage Site. The etymology of the name Galle is explained as probably an altered form of the Sinhalese word “gala”: a cattle fold or posting-place from which the Portuguese named it Point-de-Galle. The simpler and more popular theory is found in the similarity of the Sinhalese word: gala, for rock, which the Portuguese duplicated by adopting the Latin word: gallus, for rooster. They thus designed the coat-of-arms of the city as that of a rooster standing upon a rocky perch.
Galle Fort, in the Bay of Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. It is a historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument, which even after more than 423 years maintains a polished appearance, due to extensive reconstruction work done by Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka.