Galle Fort is a beautiful place to visit, and one of the few truly walkable destinations in Sri Lanka. More than the actual places to eat and see, it’s the general appearance of the cobblestone alleys and the crazy colourful walls that are so much fun to wander through.
The Fort has been around for a while, since 1588 when the Portuguese were here. It was taken over and given its signature look by the Dutch in the 17th century, and though it’s gone through countless renovations since then, some of its oldest architecture is still beautifully preserved.
Besides the obvious attraction of its historical churches, the ramparts, and its many eateries and hotels (see our map, below) – you’ll also bump into some interesting people on the way if you’re strolling through. On Church Street, there are pedestrian gem traders who might call to you and introduce you to their little pouches of amethysts and cat’s eye.
The gem business is big among the Muslim traders living in the Fort. Once on a trip down a street from the ramparts we found Iqbal who has spent a decade cleaning moonstones, mined in quarries in Galle and some even from Tanzania.
You might catch the snake-charmer anywhere from Queen Street, to the Clock Tower, or on the ramparts.
Speaking of the ramparts, you’ll obviously find the boys there who will dive off the bastion for Rs. 500 – Asanka has been doing this since he was very young, for the last 13 years.
You can watch a live game of checkers who often set it up at the junction between Church Street and Layn Baan Cross Street.