Search here...
Destinations Sri Lanka

Galle Fort — Exploring Sri Lanka’s colonial past

Forte de Galle

I went with a well-researched list of places I wanted to visit when I went to Sri Lanka. The teardrop country, near India, holds in itself centuries of tradition and its ancient cities and the Galle Fort witness history.

About 100 km from the capital, Colombo, and very close to the place where I was lodged in the south, Galle made even more sense to me when I learned that in 1505 a Portuguese vessel bound for the Maldives stopped there to take refuge from a storm.

Galle beach
View from the Galle Fort

The guides tell that a cock (“galo” in Portuguese) was on board and that when they heard him sing, they decided to call that new land Galle. However, other say that the name of the city comes from the word in Sinhala, gala (rock). Well, I confess that the first theory is much more interesting. 😉

The Portuguese presence continues for years, even with the construction of a small fort, which they called Santa Cruz. But with the entry of the Dutch, all traces were erased and, in 1663, the fortress that we can visit today was built.

Walking the streets of Galle Fort

I entered the walls through the old gate under a Dutch coat of arms, next to the Marine Archeological Museum and going to the large square surrounded by courts.

Galle Fort
Old Gate

Cars can drive inside the fort, but it’s best to walk the streets full of historic buildings, churches, mosques, small shops and restaurants.

The street in Galle
Streets inside the fort
Marlene On The Move in Sri Lanka
Mosque near the fort walls
Mosque near the fort walls

The Dutch Hospital was the second stop. This former colonial building from the 18th century, which once received patients, today gives way to a series of shops and restaurants, with tables that extend through the balconies facing the sea.

The old colonial hospital
The Dutch Hospital

From there, following the outline of the walls, the view conquers you, as we approach another icon of this place: a lighthouse with 18 meters. From 1938, it still works today.

Galle's Light House
The lighthouse

We then chose to cross the inner streets to reach the Dutch Reformed Church and the Sun Bastion, with its Clock Tower and a view over the Galle International Cricket Stadium (another of the legacies of the people who passed through those lands).

Dutch Reformed Church in Sri Lanka
Dutch Reformed Church
Galle Fort
Sun Bastion
The clock tower in Galle, Sri Lanka
The Clock Tower
Sri lanka visitors near the clock tower

Where to eat and sleep

As I said, I stayed in Ahangama, but within the walls of the Galle Fort there are innumerable lodges for all tastes and wallets.

Find best place to spend the night in Galle.

As for the meals, I followed the suggestions of the Lonely Planet and went to discover the Elita restaurant, near the lighthouse. Completely recommended! Mainly the tuna Carpaccio and the prawns. We liked it so much that on our last night in Sri Lanka we went back there. 🙂

Elita Restaurant in Galle
Elita Restaurant
Elita Restaurant

Curious about Galle? Check out this video!

Heymondo Travel Insurance Discount Marlene On The Move

Enjoyed the post? What do you think about the Galle Fort? Share your comment below.

Liked the post? PIN it and save it for later.
Join me in exploring the ancient streets and fort of Galle, Sri Lanka, and discovering its colonial history and allure.


Prepare your trip with Marlene On The Move’s partners!

By using these links or others set in this article to make your reservations, you will not pay more, and it makes all the difference to me! It’s with these partnerships that I manage to maintain the blog, so your help is precious! Thank you in advance!

Marlene On The Move

Marlene Marques

Marlene is the creator of Marlene On The Move. A journalist by profession, she created the blog to share her adventures around the world. It is not unusual for her to set off to discover new countries and cultures with a surfboard as luggage.




  • Bruno

    God damn it, those cameroon looks good 🙂 !

  • Violeta

    I like the look of colonial buildings very much. Galle Fort seems to be the perfect place to take some photos of this architectural style. Besides, those foods look so appealing, that I feel like booking a flight to Forte de Galle right now!

    • Marlene Marques

      It’s really a wonderful place to get that colonial feeling and very photogenic too. You would love it!

  • Melissa

    Ahh why did you have to post so many delicious looking food pictures? I’m pretty hungry over here, and this definitely didn’t help! In all seriousness though, this does look like a cool place to visit!

    • Marlene Marques

      It’s a great place to walk around, Melissa. And, sorry for tempting you with such food porn 😉

  • shane

    Such an interesting wander through the town. I am intrigued by the yummy looking cuisine!

    • Marlene Marques

      It’s a very interesting place, Shane. And the food tasted as good as it looks! 😉

  • Siddhartha Joshi

    This place is fascinating and I loved your pics. Btw I do agree that the story of the Portuguese galo (cock) is more interesting…

    The food looks yum too, but I wonder if there is some good veg food as well for people like me?

    • Marlene Marques

      Hi! I think you’d be able to find some vegetarian options, since their were a lot of restaurants to choose from.

  • neha

    Sri Lanka is high on my bucket list and I am planning a trip to it slowly. I definitely wanted to visit Galle. But after reading your post, there is no way I am going to miss it 🙂

  • The Nerdventurists

    I love the shot of the bike on the small, winding street. It must be quite an experience to ride through with all the foliage coming down and the houses packed in so close. The food looks delicious, too!

  • Wanderlust Vegans

    The fort looks really cool and reminds me of the fort in Valença, Portugal that we went to before. It’s interesting hearing about how the fort changed hands from Portugese to Dutch and all the artifacts left from those times. It would be fun to go up that clock tower.

  • Soumya Nambiar

    It is interesting to see streets inside a fort. I like the cock story better too. I am planning a Sri Lankan Itinerary and will definitely keep this in mind.

  • WhereMonicaGoes

    Oh, Sri Lanka is on the list of countries I would like to visit this year as well! I am yet to create my itinerary though, so thank you for this post. I am looking forward to see its wonderful beaches and try their delicious and unique cuisine.

    • Marlene Marques

      You’ll have a blast! It’s a country full of lovely beaches, wonderful food and incredible history. I’m gonna publish other posts about Sri Lanka in the weeks to come, so keep checking the blog for more inspiration.

  • Ami

    The fort is quite an interesting one. And your pictures make it even more so. I am sure there are some interesting stories too, that make the whole place worthwhile. Sadly I could not make it the last time I went to SL. Maybe Next time.

    • Marlene Marques

      Hi, Ami. I’m sure you’ll have an other opportunity next time you’re in Sri Lanka. If you want any other tip just let me know.

  • Allison

    I haven’t really had Sri Lanka on my radar as a place to visit until now. Galle Fort looks impressive and I agree that exploring is always better done on foot than in a car. Good to know that there is accommodation to suit all budgets.

    • Marlene Marques

      Hi, Allison. Sri Lanka is definitely a place you should visit one day.

  • Celma Costa

    Hi Marlene,

    It is very true that the portuguese influence is very palpable. I’m Mozambican and see it in my country often. So I love to visit these old, stone cities and simply immerse myself in its musings.
    The food in your photograph looks delicious!

    • Marlene Marques

      Hi, Celma. Mozambique has a special place in the Portuguese heart. Still have to go to your country one day. I think it must be an amazing place. And, yes, the food was delicious! But I heard that Mozambique shrimps are the real deal

  • Dane

    The place looks really beautiful! You can almost tell exactly what the climate is like just by looking at the buildings. Did you ever see that point working?

    • Marlene Marques

      Not really, Dane. But you can drive like 20 minutes from here and get a lot of surfing opportunities

  • Ana Ojha

    Galle Fort is the most preserved European Fort in Asia. Its architecture is quite fascinating. Also, loved that cobbled street giving the feel of the by gone era!

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    Galle looks charming and has a vintage aura about it. The Portuguese influence is visble in the place. I think this is a lovely place which we need to get to. Last time we did a flying visit of Colombo when we were transiting through SL.

    • Marlene Marques

      We didn’t spend a lot of time in Colombo either, but we got to see other amazing places in Sri Lanka.

  • Jitaditya Narzary

    Another little gem from Sri Lanka! There is something charming about these small towns with colonial hangovers. It transports people to a different era but credit must also be given to your narration and photographs for that!

    • Marlene Marques

      Thank you so much, Jitaditya! Sometimes is hard to translate in just a few words and pics how wonderful a place is.

  • Those small streets really look amazing for a walk. I really love to walk around between historical buildings when traveling. It just gives an extra dimension to the sights. 🙂

    • Marlene Marques

      Couldn’t agree more with you, Jesper! Thanks for your comment.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!