The seaside town of Galle is 116 km from Colombo by road or rail down the south-west coast. Today the town has grown greatly and spreads into the hinterland but the Fort is the slow beating heart of Galle’s history. The walled city has stood since the early sixteenth century through the colonial periods of the Portuguese, Dutch and British and in the present times is proclaimed as an Archaelogical Reserve and is identified as a living World Heritage Site. Through the rolling streams of time and change, Galle still retains as few other towns in Sri Lanka, an atmosphere of the past.
A monument of particular interest in the Fort is the Dutch Church dedicated in 1754. It was built on the site of a Portuguese Capuchin Convent and on an earlier Protestant “Groote Kerk”, built in 1640. Another of the antiquities of Galle is the old main gate to the Fort. The visitor should pause to study two stonelets into the walls over the entrance and the exit of this gateway which tells the story of the conquests of the old city. Nothing bespeaks the town’s prosperity in British times as the splendid mansions with the names of Closenburg, Eddystone, Barthfield, Armitage Hill or Nooit-Gedacht, a few of which though wrought with time’s changes still exist. The best preserved is Glosenburg, the gracious and spacious bungalow built by the agent of the Biritish Shipping Company P & O, its roof trusses still display the P & O sunburst. A drive to Baddegama is a delightful experience and leads out to the fine church consecrated in 1825 by Bishop Heber – Bishop of Calcutta. The church today is decorated in a purely indigenous style and at Mass the Sri Lanka Litturgy is said in Sinhala.