The seaside town of Galle is one of the most historic places in the south of Sri Lanka, but it has also been an important seaport and business center all the way back from the 14th century to the present day.
The walled city has been standing since the 16th century, when the invading Portuguese captured the city from the Sinhalese kings, constructing the first part of the fortress – three bastions known as “sun”, “moon”, and “star”. Later, the Dutch took control of the city and constructed ten more bastions, completing the fort in its entirety. When the British took command of the country in 1796, they converted the fort into the administrative center of the district, otherwise leaving it unchanged. In fact, Galle's fort is the largest remaining fort built by European invaders in all of Asia.
Today, you can reach this coastal town through an hour's drive down the Southern Expressway from the capital, Colombo. Although Galle is popular among visitors, it is not as crowded as you would expect. It is one of the most relaxing and serene places to explore in the island. A walk down the streets lined with Dutch-colonial style buildings is one of the most unique experiences you can have in Sri Lanka. You can also explore the Galle fort, rest up at refurbished guest houses, visit the religious sites (churches, temples, mosques), witness grand mansions, shop at quirky boutiques, or enjoy a nice cup of tea at a quaint cafe.