Galle Face Green is a stretch of 1,600 feet of blissful greenery and peace. Occupying over twelve acres of land, this urban park was originally built much bigger than it is today. It is still used for golfing, but back in the day, it was used as cricket, rugby, football, polo, and tennis grounds as well for horse racing. Initially laid out in 1859 by Sir Henry George Ward, the then Governor of Ceylon, Galle Face Green was the most innovative idea. A seaside urban park stretching on for miles near the beach is still seen as something awe-inspiring.
The original expanse of Galle Face Green was bounded by Beira Lake, Colombo Fort, and Colombo cemetery in the north. In the east, it was bounded by St. Peter’s Church, in the west by the Indian Ocean and by Galle Face Hotel in the south. Galle Face Green was originally laid out by the Dutch conquerors as ramparts to afford their cannons a strategic line of fire against Portuguese invaders. There are some discrepancies as to where the name came from. Some people think that it was derived from Sinhalese ‘Gal’, meaning rock.
Galle Face Green has what is now known as the Crystal Ballroom of Taj Samudra Hotel. Back in the day, it was Colombo Club Building, or more popularly, as the Race Bungalow. With its circular shape, thatched cadjan roof, and wooden framework, the Race Bungalow was a famous place for horse racing. This new urban park was once the Colpetty Race Course or Colombo Race Course.
Galle Face Green also had an unofficial Colombo Golf Club which was later relocated to its current location in Borella. In 1879, the British introduced golf to Galle Face even without a clubhouse or a proper golf course. Around the same time, the first rugby team and Colombo Football Club were formulated. Rugby matches were played regularly in the center of the Colpetty race course in harmony with the Golf Club.
Spurred on by this surprising turnout, Royal College, and St. Thomas’ College played the first ever cricket match at Galle Face Green. Now, this urban park is a place for all sorts of merrymakers to indulge in pastimes and activities in a scenic location under the open sky and the sea breeze. It is a hotspot for children, teenagers, and romancing couples alike. The weekends are lit up with kite-flyers and picnickers. This is one of the best tourist places in Colombo.