Galle, the largest city on the south coast of Sri Lanka is a place where you can find something pretty unique compared to the rest of the country. The city itself is a chaotic, noisy and dirty place not much different form several other Asian cities. What makes Galle interesting and worth seeing though, is the fort on the coast, just a few minutes’ walk from the city center.
The fort was originally built on the 16th century by the Portuguese, before taken over by the Dutch during the next century. By 18th century when the British arrived, the fort had risen to its final glorious state. Nowadays the fort is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and is also the largest fort in Asia built by the Europeans.
When we arrived at the Galle railway station, we were greeted by the already very familiar chaotic scene typical to most places in Asia. There are people everywhere, the noice is overwhelming and the tuktuks are diving past the us like crazy. This is not the scene you want to focus here, instead, head to the coast. Here, after a short walk towards the shore, the atmosphere rapidly changes as you walk inside the mighty fort the city is famous of. What you are faced with here is a centuries-old fort that holds several cute little streets and pretty houses inside, providing an interesting mixture of European architecture and Asian culture with a twist of European influence.
The moment you get inside the walls you can feel it – gone is the chaos, gone are the loud and fast moving tuktuks and you are greeted by cute little buildings framing the clean streets. Sure, there still are a few tuktuks to be seen here and there, but inside the for you can walk in peace, taking your time to admire the buildings, cozy cafes and restaurants, cute little shops and hotels. Walking inside the fort walls is like walking in a totally different world.
Once you have had enough of wandering along the charming little streets, you can head to the walls and walk around the area – watch the lighthouse, see the glimmering sea, the sun setting in the horizon, watch locals play cricket… The area sure is fascinating and you can easily spend several hours here just strolling around. When you need to have some rest, walk to one of the several tea houses, enjoy a cup of delicious Ceylon tea. If you are lucky like we were, you might even end up having a long and interesting discussion with the owner about the country and get a deeper understanding about the reasons behing the love for tea the locals have.