Galle is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular cities.Situated on the southwestern corner of the island, approximately 119 km south of Colombo, this coastal paradise is one of the country’s most iconic, given its historical value. The administrative capital of Southern Province, Galle was initially known as Gimhathiththa prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, when it was the main port on the island. There are two explanations as to how Galle ended up with its name today.
One explanation suggests that Galle is said to have been named after the Sinhala term, Gaalla, which directly translates to the place where cattle herd together. This could be directly related to the city’s identity as a gathering point for citizens from all over the country who travelled to Galle by bullock cart, which resulted in hundreds of carts and cattle being stationed all around the city. Another alternate explanation is derived from the city’s Dutch colonial past and the Dutch word “Gallus”, which means rooster and was the symbol used by the colonizers around the city. No matter where the city’s name originates from, one thing is for certain and that is that the city is one of the island’s most recognized in many parts of the world. The city’s rich cricketing history and famous cricket stadium,located under the shadow of the renowned Galle Fort, makes it a region of the world that would catch the eye of any tourist.
Galle rose in significance during the 17th and 18th centuries, during the Dutch and Portuguese colonial period, where it became one of the best examples of a fortified city built by the Portuguese in the wholeof South and Southeast Asia. Today, the Galle fort is a designated World Heritage site and is the largest remaining colonial era fortress in all of Asia. Galle is full of iconic architectural landmarks, which includethe city’s natural harbour, the National Maritime Museum, St. Mary’s Cathedral founded by Jesuit priests, and one of the most prominent Shiva temples on the island.
In addition to its important historical and religious sights, the region is also known for its significant natural and geographical features, which includes Rumassala in the neighbouring town ofUnawatuna – a large hill that forms the eastern protective barrier to Galle Harbour. Rumassala’s historical value stems from local lore thatlinksthe hill to some of the Ramayana’s major events – one of Hinduism’s greatest stories.
Demographically, the city of Galle has a population of around 91,000 people, which comprises multiple ethnic groups. Much like in many other parts of the island, Galle has a majority Sinhalese population, which consists of approximately 66,000 people (around 73% of the total population), 23,000 Sri Lankan Moors (around 25% of the total population), just under 1000 Tamils (around 1% of the total population). The city is also home to several other communities, which include Indian Tamils, Burghers, Malays, and people with European origin of whom some have established themselves in the region by partnering up with local tourist businesses. The city is also home to the famous Galle Literary Festival, which draws authors from all over the country and the world to one central point each year – if you happen to be around in January, be sure to check it out!
Galle is one of the country’s most exciting and vibrant cities, given its historical significance, and it is most definitely a city you will want to check out when you visit Sri Lanka. If you would like more information about Galle, please feel to reach out to us or read the other sections in this segment to learn more specific details about the city!
Galle rose in significance during the 17th and 18th centuries, during the Dutch and Portuguese colonial period, where it became one of the best examples of a fortified city built by the Portuguese in the whole of South and Southeast Asia. Today, the Galle Fort is a designated World Heritage site and is the largest remaining colonial-era fortress in all of Asia.
The fort area is known for its iconic lighthouse, stunning views of the ocean, shops, cafes and vibrant culture scene. It’s a popular tourist destination offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in rich history and beauty of the region.
Galle Harbour is a significant harbour situated in Galle. It has played a vital role in the region’s history and maritime trade for centuries. The harbour offers a sheltered inlet for ships, making it an important stopover point for traders and explorers throughout various periods of history. Today, Galle harbour still holds a certain charm and serves as a reminder of its historical impotence in connecting Sri Lanka to the wider world through maritime trade and exploration.
The National Maritime Museum is a captivating attraction in Sri Lanka. It’s a treasure trove of maritime history showcasing the country’s nautical heritage. With fascinating exhibits, artifacts and stories the museum offers visitors insights into Sri Lanka’s maritime past, showcasing its maritime trade, naval prowess and cultural connections with the sea. It’s a must-visit for history enthusiasts and anyone curious about the maritime history of the region.
The St. Mary’s Cathedral, Queen of the Holy Rosary, known as “Galla Santha Mariya Asana Dewu Maedura” in Sinhala stands as a landmark in Galle. Constructed by the Society of Jesus in the late 1800s, it serves as the cathedral for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galle. The cathedral holds significant historical and religious importance for Southern Sri Lanka’s Catholic community under the leadership of its first bishop, Belgian Jesuit Joseph Van Reeth. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin MAry, the cathedral stands at the heart of the region, reflecting both architectural beauty and spiritual significance.
The Galle Shivan Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, a prominent deity in Hinduism. The temple stands a symbol of cultural and religious diversity in the area, attracting devotees and visitors alike. With its intricate architecture and spiritual atmosphere, the Galle Shivan offers a place of worship, reflection, and connection to Hindu traditions. It’s a special destination for those interested in exploring the religious heritage of the region.
In addition to its important historical and religious sights, the region is also known for its significant natural and geographical features, which include Rumassala in the neighbouring town of Unawatuna – a large hill that forms the eastern protective barrier to Galle Harbour. Rumassala’s historical value stems from local lore that links the hill to some of the Ramayana’s major events – one of Hinduism’s greatest stories.
Perched above the serene blue sea, A Minute by Tuk Tuk, stands as a divine dining spot, highly favored among Galle’s restaurants. Easily accessible via a one minute tuk tuk ride from Galle Fort, the name itself reflects its convenience. Reserve a table on the deck or at the stylish bar and indulge in their delectable seafood spread, local delicacies and international fare. It is a great idea to start your day with a hearty breakfast before your excursions.
Location: Dutch Hospital Shopping complex in Sri Lanka
You wouldn’t want to miss out on experiencing local flavours during your Sri Lanka visit and Coconut Sambol is the perfect place for authentic native cuisine. With its charming robust ambiance, this cozy spot can host about 10 guests at once. You have the chance to savor servings of the set menu for a fixed price.
Location: 68 Church St, Galle
Galle boasts numerous dining options and Hoppa stands out as a top choice. Known for its exceptional service, artistic decor and diverse selection of Asian and local cuisine. Try out their unique dishes like the buffalo mozzarella appetizer and cheese roti. They also cater to gluten free and vegan preferences.
Location: 20 Pedlar St, Galle