Gallant Galle has welcomed visitors from all parts of the world dating back as far as King Solomon’s time. As early as the 14th century Indian, Arab, Roman, Greek, Persian and Malay traders have touched the sands of Galle, as her natural sea port formation yielded strategic advantage. Galle was also privileged to be visited by travelers such as Fa Hein, Marco Polo and Ibun Batuta. Trading spices, gems and ivory it was alive with splendor and bustling mix of locals and foreign traders, one can only imagine this picturesque history as time and tide have washed away records of this era.
However from the 16th century onwards evident influences from the Portuguese, Dutch and British have made its mark in history. In 1505 Lorenzo de Almeida who was sailing a fleet of vessels to Maldives to intercept Moorish spice ships, was blown off course due to unfavorable weather and landed at the harbor. They heard cocks crowing at dusk as they landed, so named it Galle later on. This is how the name Punto de Gale ( the Latin for chanticleer being gallus) came to be. The Dutch took over in 1640 and in 1796 the British forces grasped the city and called it Point de Galle.
Even though the Portuguese stumbled upon Galle it’s the Dutch who made a lasting impression. They started the world’s first multinational company ( Dutch East India Company) and set up regional headquarters in Galle, where a large 90 acre fort was built by Mozambique labourers. During the British rule many merchants breezed through these waters dealing in Chinese tea trade to wool sales in London. Combined with a symphony of architectural and historical composition this site was declared a world heritage site in 1988 and is also known to be the best preserved sea port in South East Asia.
The narrow maze of streets, the giant boulder walls, Dutch and British buildings with verandahs and central courtyards, timeless antique shops combined with the quaint lull of the sea will transport you back in time as the wonders of the fort unravel before you.