Welcome to the captivating world of Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site steeped in history and brimming with architectural marvels from the Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial periods. Nestled in Galle, this remarkable fortified city stands as a testament to the fusion of cultures that once graced the shores of South and South-East Asia between the 16th and 19th centuries AD.

Unveiling Galle Fort’s Rich History

Artillery gun in Galle Fort
Artillery gun in Galle Fort

According to ancient scriptures, even King Solomon recognized the allure of Galle’s treasures. The legendary city of “Tarshish,” known for trading ivory, peacocks, and monkeys, finds echoes in Galle’s historical tapestry.

In 1859, the astute British administrator and historian, Sir Emerson Tenant, hailed Galle as an eminent international trade hub. He intriguingly linked Galle to the biblical “Tarshish,” underscoring its pivotal role in global trade.

Harbor: The Heartbeat of Galle’s Past

Perched by a natural harbor, Galle rose to prominence as a vital trading nexus, attracting merchants from across the world. Traders from the East and West converged on this coastal gem, making it a melting pot of diverse cultures.

Galle’s maritime history mirrors its significance. Pre-Christian times saw its harbor in use, but its importance burgeoned in the 12th century. By the 14th century, it reigned as the premier seaport in the region, a title it held until Colombo’s artificial harbor, built by the British in 1877 AD, took over.

Galle Fort: A Jewel of the Orient

The Dutch East India Company recognized Galle as a gem in their seaport crown. Ptolemy’s map in 139 AD labeled Galle as ‘Cetum Proments,’ underscoring its historical prominence.

Folklore and epics intertwine with Galle’s narrative. The renowned Ramayana speaks of Galle’s role in the tale of Lord Rama and Hanuman, the monkey god. Legends claim that a part of the Himalayas fell near Galle, where the healing haven of Unawatuna stands today.

A Global Crossroads

Greek writer ‘Sophater’ hailed Galle’s harbor as the pivotal juncture between the West and East sea routes. The 4th and 5th centuries saw ships laden with silk, cloves, sandalwood, and pepper from far-off lands, exchanging goods in Galle’s bustling seaport.

Stone anchors of Indo-Arabian design further solidify Galle’s international connections. Records from the 4th to 5th centuries mention the ‘Tisyng’ Dynasty’s cinnamon trade with China, facilitated by Galle’s harbor.

Galle: A Mosaic of Influences

In the 10th century, Abusyde Hussan of Basora lauded Galle as the epitome of ivory trade. Even the famed traveler Ibn Batuta documented Galle’s importance in 1344 AD.

The 15th century brought Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho, leaving his mark with a trilingual inscription commemorating his visit. Galle remained a bustling trade center until the Portuguese arrival in 1505 AD, shifting the maritime narrative.

Discover Galle Fort: A Timeless Gem

Venture into Galle Fort, where the echoes of centuries past resonate in every cobblestone. Immerse yourself in the historical grandeur of this living city, a beacon of cross-cultural exchange and architectural brilliance.

Experience Galle Fort’s allure for yourself, as you step into a realm where the whispers of bygone eras still dance on the breeze. The Galle Fort invites you to witness its rich history and embrace its enduring charm.

Galle Fort
Galle Fort