Galle

Overview

Introduction

This city on the southern coast of Sri Lanka is a must-see for colonial-architecture buffs. Its main attraction is a still-inhabited 17th-century Dutch fort, one of the most extensive monuments left by European colonialists. Although many of the structures that made up the fort are in serious decay, the 65-ft-/20-m-thick outer walls are completely intact. If you walk along the top of the walls at dusk, you'll see dozens of cricket games, an old lighthouse, beautiful views of the town's harbor and Sri Lankan families out socializing. Within the fort, visit any of several old churches (including a Dutch church dating from the mid-18th century) or simply stroll the narrow streets to get a good look at the old buildings. At the top of Church Street, the New Oriental Hotel (originally the Dutch governor's office) is one of the oldest in Sri Lanka. It's a great place to stop for a drink or rest.

Galle's beach is ugly and polluted, but Unawatuna, only 3 mi/5 km south of Galle, has a pretty cove-protected beach, good snorkeling and a hilltop dagoba. Tsunami damage was extensive there, but cleanup is well under way. Galle is 65 mi/105 km south of Colombo.

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