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Galle and the Dutch legacy in Sri Lanka


Lying in the south-western corner of the country, Galle is one of Sri Lanka’s jewels. Galle Fort refers to the walled fortifications built by the Dutch in the 17th century. These thick, solid walls were certainly built to last, protecting the old town within from the devastation wrought by the 2004 tsunami. The surrounding newer town has a few points of interest (including a test cricket ground just outside the fort walls), but really it’s the pretty, colonial era buildings within the fort that are the reason to visit.

Old Fort Roof - Sri LankaJust wandering around is the most rewarding way to experience the fort. It’s a laid back kind of place, but it’s definitely not a museum, and plenty of people live here – many of them descendants of Muslim traders who settled here centuries ago. There are schools, courts, churches, mosques, and some interesting little shops, cafes and restaurants to explore, as well as museums – the National Maritime Museum is recommended, the National Museum not. Be sure to visit the Historical Mansion Museum (which is really a shop), have a drink in the upmarket Amangalla Hotel (formerly the governor’s mansion), and take a stroll on the city walls. If you have a little longer, a cookery lesson is a great, fun way to learn about Sri Lankan cuisine.

There are places to stay within the Fort, or there are many accommodation options in the countryside and on the beaches around Galle – all easily accessible from the fort by tuk-tuk.

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