I absolutely love any excuse to get dressed up, so when we heard about a charity ball in Galle, our favourite place in Sri Lanka, we were all in.
The Galle Fort also known as Dutch Fort is the most elegant spot of Sri Lanka. Added to the UNESCO World heritage site in 1988, the city has since then been reconstructed by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka, giving it its chic and polish appearance.
A bit of history
The Portuguese docked in Galle for the first time in 1505 but the construction of the fort did not start until 1588, when the Portuguese had to protect themselves from the King Raja Singha I. The major fortifications were done by the Dutch in the 17th Century, after they joined hand with King Rajasinhe and capture the fort from the Portuguese, hence the Dutch architectural style that can still been seen. Eventually, the British took over the Fort in 1796, a week before capturing Colombo, and the country remained a British colony until the island became independent in 1948.
Things to do
My favourite way to visit Galle is to hire a tuk-tuk to go around the fort, but you can easily do it on foot if you have a half-day. I suggest to start by the clock tower which is four stories’ high and situated immediately inside the fort ramparts near the main Gate, from there you can walk on the highest ramparts of the city and admire the impressive view of the fort on one side and the new Galle city on the other side. Continue to the nearby and beautifully restored Amangalla (formerly known as the New Orient Hotel), before stopping at the Dutch Reformed Church. As you continue down the street, you reach the flag rock, the tip of the fort with the Lighthouse being on your left. Walking on the rampart from the flag rock to the light house is quite an experience, you can watch the beach boys doing acrobatic jump from the top of the bastion to the sea 10 meters below. Further down, you see an old man half naked sitting under tree, and as you get closer, you start wondering why he has so many rattan boxes. As you pass by, he opens the boxes and start playing to hypnotize the snake. As you watch you might get hypnotize yourself. You can continue walking the wall, towards the light house. Back into the tuk-tuk, continue to the old Dutch hospital. These two buildings have been beautifully restored and now host a few shops and restaurants. Down the street you find to the secondary gate and the National Maritime museum.
With this tour, we have cover all the major attractions of Galle Fort. We then continue by foot to explore all the small streets, looking for a place to have lunch. The historic fort area feels old and plenty of locals live here, but it also feels very chic with all the boutique shops, cafes and hotels. There’s a very noticeable art scene here too and many of the houses are owned by foreign artists.
Where to stay in Galle
The Fort Bazaar: a former spice, tea and gem trading post turned luxury hotel. This stylish stay has many valuable treasure to be discovered; unwind in the hotel’s Bali-inspired spa, dine on black pork curry and lagoon crab at Church Street Social and get some shuteye in a comfortable four-poster bed. Set in the heart of 17th-century, colonial-Dutch city Galle, the hotel’s in prime position for early-morning discovery trips in the fort,
Price: between 200 to 300 USD
Our favourite rooms: If size matters, choose one of the Upper Suites; at a spacious 75sq m, they have high ceilings, private balconies, and an adjoining seating area in the bedroom. Families with small children should stay in the Upper Family Suite which has all the perks of the Upper Suites, plus an additional loft space for kids.
Tips: While the pool is being built, ask the front desk for a tuk-tuk (free) to the Lighthouse Hotel where you'll have full access to their pools.
If your budget allows, stay at legendary Amangalla. Once the grand dame of Galle Fort known as the New Oriental Hotel, this luxurious retreat continues to attract cultured comfort-seekers with its blend of nostalgic fittings, centuries-old charm, and modern flourishes.
Where to eat
Because we love Arabic food, we always eat at Chambers Restaurant, the food there is delicious, and a lot different than what we can find in the rest of the island. However if you are touring Sri Lanka you might want to try something more local like The Lucky Fort Restaurant.
For a nice diner, go to Church Street Social, the restaurant of Fort Bazaar. They have amazing tapas plate and delicious food. If you do eat there, make sure to keep a space for their dessert. My favourite is the dark chocolate layered meringue.
Where to Shop
Galle is by far my favourite place to shop in the country. With dozens of shops for all style and budget you are sure to find something to bring back home for you and all your friends
The Three by TPV