Galle Fort begun by the Portuguese in the 16th century, expanded by the Dutch in the 17th Century and consolidated by the British in the 19th century, is not a historical ruin but has been transformed into a living, thriving contemporary settlement. Located at the southwest corner of the island the Fort covers 52ha and contains within its broad, grey granite rampart walls, nearly 500 houses.
Entrance to the Fort is through either of two main gates, one of which contains the Dutch Coat of Arms on one side and the British on the other. The Fort is Number 200 on UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and is free to enter and explore. The cobbled streets are lined with houses from the Dutch and British periods, with some art deco masterpieces, many of which have been converted into boutique shops and stylish guest houses.
Some of the major landmarks within the fort are, Dutch Reformed Church, National Maritime Museum, Old Dutch Hospital and the New Orient Hotel. During the 2004 tsunami however it is important to note that even though the Fort was able to withstand most of the damage certain buildings did suffer. The government together with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs launched a project to restore the Fort to its former glory and is now back to being a major hotspot for tourists visiting the south.
While visiting the beaches of the south it is most recommended that you visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site and learn about its stories.