A small Fort with a Big personality. With its trendy shops and cafes surrounded by the Fort walls and so many of the original 18th century buildings still used and lived in within Galle by locals which makes it so special and personal. Made a UNESCO world heritage site 1988 and really feels like a precious jewel which needs to be protected at all costs with the immaculate condition it has been kept in for so long.
The accommodation, Beatrice House
Around £25 per night, inc Breakfast
I stayed in a beautiful 350 year old Dutch House, built in the 18th century, full of treasures and trinkets the owner Kodi and his wife Mina had collected. From the wooden window and door frames along the outside, to the high ceiling beams inside. It was like I had walked into a life size dolls house, with so many mismatched items of furniture, curtains, colours and antiques. Yet it worked!
The breakfast was a communal one at the family dining room with all the guests, in the main open plan living room area, authentic hoppers, rice and so many fresh fruits! The hosts were helpful in everyway, helping me beyond what they needed too. I even had my washing done and dried in the central garden. It had everything and I didn’t want to leave, in fact I stayed an extra night because of loved it so much! The family were so welcoming!
The Fort entrance gets you ready for a walk back in time. The long tunnel showing the thickness of the 16th century fort from the get go, I was greeted with some of the locals playing cricket on the grass within. The fort was built in the 17th century by the Portugese settlers before the influence of the dutch and then finally the British in the 18th Century. It is one of the most well preserved examples of Colonization in South Asia.
The clocktower, soon as you enter or leave the fort you can see this monument added when the British took overt the fort, with beautiful views of the Galle outer town, cricket ground and the walls around it, you go back in time with the small figures of archers and defensive scenes.
The Dutch church
The Maritime museum , was closed when I arrived on the day it was closed, but even just the outer building is a typical Dutch architecture and was amazing to walk around, just imagine what the inside would be like!
The old Hospital building is stunning, I stayed away from the refurbished insides due to most of them being quite expensive westernised shops and restaurants. The interiors are beautiful, but for Sri Lanka the prices are out of locals budgets and mine. The development is beautiful though and really brought the building to its best years.
The Historical Mansion is a house full of artifacts all belonging to a man called… and his family. There are all types of phones, typewriters, letters, swords, kitchen items, coins, medals and I could go on, he was basically the ultimate hoarder. But also is a beautiful Dutch house with a central courtyard and several demonstrations of Sri Lankan handicrafts being shown.
The lighthouse is the ultimate picture perfect shot of Galle fort, with the palm trees, blue sky and white painted building it is a sight to take your breath away. Built by the British in 1848. It is now the finish point of reaching the furthest point from the Galle fort entrance, with the Lighthouse beach by the side of it with tourists and locals alone can visit. The perfect end to a perfect day in Galle.
The central shops and streets are totally like something out of the sunny coastal resort in Europe, with alot of shop owners coming over to showcase their shops. Its full of quirky boutique shops, some shabby sheek restaurants and unique, stylish clothes shops. From postcard shops, to the art galleries there was something for everyone to immerse yourself in the boho feel of Galle. If I had the money I could of gone mental in each shop I went into, but for now I completed the ultimate window shopping challenge. Some of the shops which caught my attention;
The Fort walls run the whole way around the fort (ofcourse), and provide a beautiful walk to see the inner streets from above. Along this part of the wall you can enjoy the ocean views and even a beach of the tide is out. The most stunning part of the fort walls is when the sun starts to set on the West side of the walls after a day of exploring, sit on the edge of the wall and enjoy the show that’s about to happen over the ocean.
Once the Fort has turned to nighttime, the busy streets become full of lit up restaurants and shops. The place I headed to was HOPPA , for The hoppers, a Sri Lankan dish I was yet to try, and was not disappointed. They are crispy, bowl shaped pancakes made with rice flour and is a street food dish served with curry sauces and eggs fried within them. AMAZING and like nothing i’ve seen in other cultures before! Some of the other places I headed for food;
The Gelato has to follow the evening meal, especially with the several choices in the Galle Fort area; I ended up having to have two a day to try them all out;
Lastly I ventured to the The outer walls, where the train station is located across the road from the cricket ground opposite the Fort entrance gate. Along the other side is the ocean front with fish markets, ocean promenade and the main town. The fruit and veg market is what I headed out to find for some fresh Mangoes and fruit, but also the hustle and bustle of the local life. The Fruit market has recently been the location for ITV show Good Karma Hospital filming, showing that Galle is becoming more popular and well known.
Turtle Sanctuary – I visited the ……. Turtle Sanctuary and Conservation Centre which is a good 1 and half hours trip from Galle train station, then a bus, plus a 15 minute walk but was so worth it! They have a struct way of keeping the visitors interested, interacted in the process, but also the respect for these animals which is not done in other sanctuaries I have heard about. They allow you to see the baby turtles which are just too cute, and take you round to learn about the other turtles they have saved or look after. I stayed around 2 hours, then headed back the way I came to Galle
Galle definitely holds a special place in my Sri Lankan memories, its wasn’t actually going to be a main stay for me , but ended up being one of my favourite spots to visit The European influences throughout the Galle Fort streets were so fun, with wooden structures, pretty plants growing around them, and a very quiet atmosphere to make it feel like i was the first to discover this protected treasure. From the beaches, restaurants, scenery and some beautiful architecture Galle had everything i needed to enjoy the charms of the Fort. I didn’t want to leave and will definitely be back!