The Sri Lankan city of Galle was founded by Portuguese explorers in the sixteenth century. In 1640, the Dutch moved in and began fortifying the town by constructing an 89-acre (36-hectare) fort on the town’s promontory, surrounded on three sides by the Bay of Galle. Today, the old town of Galle and its fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988, ranks among the best preserved European-built fortified cities in Southeast Asia.
The fort remains so much more than a historical attraction. The town is very much still alive. The walled city still houses government buildings, businesses, museums, cafes, and shops. The narrow streets are filled with residents going about their business. The ramparts overlook the Indian Ocean and provide a popular viewing spot at sunrise.
Visitors who wish to linger in Old Galle can stay in one of several boutique hotels housed in Dutch colonial villas.