Don’t know about the Old Dutch Fort of Galle? You should, and you should pay the place a visit too, to be charmed and awed by what the colonist left behind in beautiful Sri Lanka. There’s a reason why there are so many luxury surf and yoga retreats in the vicinity. A place where ancient Sri Lankan culture seems to merge with colonial architecture, the fort, located along the natural bay of Galle is the coastal town’s biggest attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Old Dutch Fort established in 1588 by the Portuguese colonists was taken over by the invading Dutch in 1649 and turned into the architectural heritage it is today. Standing the test of time for over 423 years the place appears better than ever and is lovingly maintained by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka.
Ideal to tour by foot, you enter the fort through a humongous arch-gate still bearing a vintage coat of arms above.
Visit the Maritime Museum first and explore a fascinating world chronicling the island’s link to the ocean, via records of visiting foreign fleets and wrecks discovered off the coast. Explore the displays of rescued treasure from old wrecks such as coins, pipes, bottles, etc.
Right in front of the museum is the historic, All Saints Church, sitting on a road aptly named ‘Church Street’. No, you are not being invited for mass, but are encouraged to explore the interiors exuding vintage British styles, period-furniture, and beautiful stained glass windows.
Follow the cobblestone streets till you happen upon a charming row of cafes, shops and gem boutiques. Mind you know a thing or two about the precious stones, before making any outlandish purchases. But sitting down to a cuppa is wholly encouraged. Sit there and relax while indulging in some people watching, and making a note to visit the retro poster store aka. Stick No Bills, located there. sticknobillsonline.com
No, not when your feet are tiered; along every little street in the Galle Fort, you will see a vintage car parked on the kerb and for a fee, you can take a ride, why? For some fun! Keep a look out for the old fire engine red VW, minus power shutters and auto transmission you will stumble upon on one of the little streets within the Galle Fort.
Your walk must take you to at least one of the following; De Groote Kerk on Church Street, the Old Dutch Hospital located on Hospital Street (surprise, surprise), the Old Lighthouse and of course the ramparts for marvellous views across the Indian Ocean.
Once done exploring, take those rumbling tummy’s off to The Galle Fort Hotel; www.galleforthotel.com promising you a back in time experience, from its colonial style architecture to vintage settings and a pretty awesome menu. Walk in, with your wind swept hair and skin bronzed by the tropical sun, to sit back, relax and feel like a British aristocrat as you tuck into meals that extend from Sri Lankan favourites to something closer to home. Charming would be an apt word to describe your last experience of the Old Dutch Fort, as the sun dips beyond the rugged ramparts and stars adorn the balmy night skies. Enjoy!