Galle town

Perched on the coast close to the island's southernmost point, the venerable port of GALLE (pronounced "Gaul") has grown from ancient origins intoSri Lanka's fourth largest city. At the heart of modern Galle - but strangely detached from it lies the Old Dutch quarter, known as the Fort. Sri Lanka's best-preserved colonial townscape, it's enclosed within huge walls and bastions which now protect the area from modernization as effectively as they once protected Dutch trading interests from marauding adventurers. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1988, the Fort has an understated, quietly decaying charm, its low-rise streets lined with old churches and Dutch colonial villas, many of which retain their original street-facing verandahs, their white plaster now stripped by sea breezes and weathered to a peeling grey. There's not actually much to see (a few bizarre museums excepted): the main pleasure here is just ambling round the atmospheric old streets and around the walls, enjoying the easy pace of life and refreshing absence of traffic you won't find a quieter town anywhere else in the island.

 

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Galle Fort

The principal entrance to the Fort is through the Main Gate, one of the newest parts of the fortifications, having been added by the British in 1873 to allow easier vehicular access to the fort.Th e section of ramparts facing the new town is the most heavily fortified, since it protected the Fort's vulnerable land side. The Dutch substantially enlarged the original Portuguese fortifications here, naming the new defences the Sun, Moon and Star bastions.The sheer |scale of the town-facing bastions here is brutally impressive, if not particularly aesthetic- a fitting memorial to Dutch Governor PetrusVuyst (1726-29), who was largely responsible for their construction and whose cruelty and abuse of power was such that he was eventually recalled to Jakarta and executed by the Dutch authorities. The ugly clocktower on top of the bastions was erected by the punctilious British in 1883.

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