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If you’re in Sri Lanka and looking for a unique experience, the Galle Dutch Fort is a must-visit destination.This monumental site is situated on the southwest coast and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally built by the Portuguese in 1588, the Dutch extensively reinforced the fort from 1649 onwards. This 432-year-old fort continues to remain a popular tourist attraction in the region. Whether you are fond of history, an architecture admirer, or simply looking for picturesque views, Galle Dutch Fort is a must-visit destination for all kinds of travellers.

Galle Dutch Fort History

Old gate of Fort Sri Lanka.

Image Credit: Andreaskrappweis for Wikipedia Commons

The earliest existence of the Galle Fort can be traced back to 125-150 CE when Greece, Arab Countries, China, and other countries prominently used this port for trading. Under the leadership of Lourenco de Almeida, the Portuguese made their first appearance in 1505 from this port. Since then, they have made a lot of notable developments in the surrounding areas. The fort was used for trading and served as a prison camp to imprison Sinhalese natives who opposed the Portuguese. They were attacked by the Sinhalese king and forced to get back. After returning to Galle, they made a small fort out of palm trees and mud. They named it ‘Santa Cruz’ and later extended it with a watch tower.

In 1640, the Dutch entered and joined hands with King Rajasinghe II to capture the Galle fort. They then made several changes. Tables turned when the British captured Colombo and the fort. Britishers used the fort as their southernmost headquarters. Many modifications were also made to the fort. Gradually, the importance of the Galle fort declined after the Britishers announced Colombo as their capital. Sri Lanka remained a British colony from 1815 until it became independent in 1948. But in all this theory, what this fort has for its visitors? Let us read a little more to get an idea of what this fort serves to its visitors.

Must Read: Places To Visit In Galle

Galle Dutch Fort Gates

Main gate of Galle Dutch Fort Sri Lanka.

Image Credit: Dan Lundberg for Wikipedia Commons

Primarily there are two gates to enter the fort. The first one is well known as the British Gate and is located opposite the Galle International Stadium. It is combined with a double-story warehousing building, which is now the National Maritime Museum. A coat-of-arms is carved at the front top of the British gate, while the inside of the gate depicts inscriptions dating back to 1669 and some initials of the Dutch East India Company. It is paired with carvings of two lions and a rooster between them. The Old gate is located at the left of the northern wall of the fort. It is the only remaining piece of fortification done by the Portuguese which remains untouched even after the renovations done by the Dutch and the British. Hence it is also known as the Portuguese gate.

Galle Dutch Fort Tour

Sun bastion viewpoint inside Galle Dutch Fort Sri Lanka.

Image Credit: Anja Leidel for Wikipedia Commons

Amazingly, some properties inside the fort are still owned by many Dutch people and Srilankan locals as well. The Galle Dutch Fort has become a prime tourist destination for all historians, archaeologists, and art lovers. The three sides of the Galle fort overlook the sea. The ramparts of the fort are spread over a circumference of 2.5 km and provide a pleasing experience to its visitors. The picturesque buildings are examples of European and South Asian influence on Sri Lanka’s culture. This historical monument was initially built by the Portuguese and was later renovated by the Dutch. You may explore the buildings made by European architects or walk alongside the sea. The fort has a lot to be explored. The greenery surrounding the old buildings and houses, sea waves, cold breeze, and more.

Suggested Read: Day Trips from Galle

Places To Visit Near Galle, Dutch Fort

From pristine beaches to museums, lighthouses and churches, there are many attractions in the surrounding region that are worth exploring. Here are some top places to visit near Galle Dutch Fort that promise to enhance your Sri Lankan adventure.

1. Galle International Cricket Stadium

View of Galle Cricket Stadium.

Image Credit: calflier001 for Wikipedia Commons

Being surrounded by the Indian Ocean from two sides, this is one of the most picturesque stadiums in the world. It is located at a distance of 0.3 km from the Galle Dutch fort and was known as The Esplanade before it was brought up to international cricket standards. The stadium is open to all and has no entry fees. The only thing to be kept in mind is the timings. From Monday to Friday, the stadium opens from 9 am to 5 pm. While on Saturdays 9 am to 12 pm, and on Sundays 7:30 am to 5 pm.

Location: Colombo Main Rd, Galle 80000, Sri Lanka
Timings: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Monday to Saturday

Suggested Read: Galle Nightlife

2. Galle National Museum

Galle National Museum is a must-see attraction near the Galle Dutch Fort.

Image Credit: Dan arndt for Wikimedia Commons

Built adjoining the Galle Dutch Fort, the Galle National Museum is made in the oldest building of the fort. It was constructed in 1656 and was used as a commissariat store for the Dutch garrison. With a minimal entry fee, this museum holds a lot of historical artefacts to be explored. A description of a few is written below them. Mainly the museum is divided into three galleries. The first gallery shows a collection from the local cottage industry, turtle-shell jewellery, Sri Lanka’s traditional beeralu lace, and carved wooden masks. The second gallery is a collection of furniture and weapons from the Dutch period, while the third and the last gallery is devoted to showcasing the friendly relations between Sri Lanka and China.

Location: 26H8+HQ6, Church St, Galle 80000, Sri Lanka
Timings: 9:00 am to 4:45 am from Tuesday to Monday

3. Galle Fort Lighthouse

Lighthouse within Galle Dutch Fort Sri Lanka.

Image Credit: Nipuna Gamage for Wikimedia Commons

Located in the geographical boundaries of the Galle Dutch Fort, this lighthouse is still working and taken good care of. In 1934 the original lighthouse constructed by the Dutch was burnt and later it was rebuilt in 1939. It will take you about 1.5 – 2 hours to walk the full ramparts and explore the lighthouse. The lighthouse provides a very scenic view, azuring waters, and greenery making it a perfect combination for your social media photos. The best time to visit is from December to March. You may either choose to sit and enjoy a picnic with your family or go for a romantic walk with your beloved.

Location: 26F9+RPH, Galle 80000, Sri Lanka
Timings: Open 24 hours

Suggested Read: Restaurants In Galle

4. Dalawella Beach

Sweeping view of Dalawella Beach, located in Sri Lanka.

Image Source: Pexels

This is one of the loveliest spots in Sri Lanka. You can swim while watching the turtles alongside. It has clean water and surprisingly, stays less crowded most of the time. While on the beach you can enjoy a lot of water activities, such as snorkelling, kayaking, scuba diving, jet skiing, and surf lessons. You can enjoy whale and dolphin watching too. The calm sea water and arch-shaped rocks (formed due to tides), will let your soul just sit back and relax while sipping on some beverage.

Location: main road in Unawatuna, on the south coast of Sri Lanka
Timings: Open 24 hours

5. Dutch Reformed Church

Splendid Dutch Reformed Church in Galle Dutch Fort.

Image Credit: Michael Gunther for Wikimedia Commons

The Dutch Reformed Church is also known as Groote Kerk Church. It is one of the oldest protestant churches and was built in 1755 by the Dutch. There is a pipe piano in the church which is still in a working condition. After entering the church for free, you will observe inscriptions on the floor of the church. It is built on the graves of very few selected high-ranking officials and other Dutch nationals. Apart from this, some gravestones can be found in the garden as well. Very interesting and unique to hear. Right? Imagine how majestic to be live witnessed then.

Location: 26H8+7RQ, Galle 80000, Sri Lanka
Timings: 6:00 am to 9:00 pm every day

Suggested Read: Most Beautiful Places In Sri Lanka

How To Reach

reach Sri lanka by train or use some other way.

Image Credit: katorisi for Wikimedia Commons

By Road: There are tuk-tuks all over the roads available to take you to the fort. You can also book a taxi or cab at your convenience.

By Train: The nearest railway station is Galle railway station. You may choose from the trains that ply within the important points of the city.

By Air: Galle airport is the nearest airport to Galle Dutch Fort and is located at a distance of 15 km. The fort can be reached within 30 minutes from there.

Best Time To Visit

a mesmerising view of the Galle Dutch Fort.

Image Credit: calflier001 for Wikimedia Commons

The fort is open all day throughout the year. You can visit at any time to witness its architectural beauty. The ideal time to visit is during the dry season, from November to April, when the weather is pleasant and ideal for sightseeing. So plan your trip accordingly and feel the essence of ancient history to know more about Sri Lanka.

Further Read: Places To Visit In Badulla

The Galle Dutch Fort perfectly blends archaeology, history, architecture, and the colonial era. This place is home to a very friendly multi-religious and multi-ethnic population. With zero entry fees, this fort is open to all visitors, either locals or foreigners. Also, do not forget to be a part of “The Galle Literary Festival” which usually takes place in January. If you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka soon, do not forget to discover the timeless charm this fort possesses.

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Cover Image Credit: Rovin Shanila for wikipedia

Frequently Asked Questions About Galle Dutch Fort

Is there any entry fee for visiting the Galle Dutch Fort?

There is no entry fee and every visitor is allowed to roam around the fort freely. However, some specific sites within the fort, like the museums, may charge a small entry fee.

What are Galle Dutch Fort timings?

Galle Dutch Fort timings for visitors and the locals are from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It is advised to visit the fort around 8 AM as the place is less crowded and you may explore around easily.

What is the suggested dress code when visiting Galle Dutch Fort?

Light, comfortable and breathable clothing are suggested due to the tropical climate of the region. As there are religious sites within the fort, dress modestly covering shoulders and knees.

Are there any stay options at Galle Dutch Fort?

Yes, there are many hotels and guesthouses within the fort and in a nearby radius to enjoy a comfortable stay with your family or friends.

Is photography allowed at Galle Dutch Fort?

Yes, clicking photos is permitted at Galle Dutch Fort, however, if there may be some restricted areas, do check before visiting the place.

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