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.