15 Gems of Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle Town is one of the oldest towns in Sri Lanka that preserves the heritage of the country. The town is dotted with Dutch-style houses, whitewashed mansions, quirky shops, heritage museums, and impressive churches, temples and mosques.
Its windswept beaches, nodding palm trees and old-colonial vibe makes this place a worth-visit destination. It also houses the iconic Galle Fort, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here is a list of 15 gems you can explore in Galle.
1. Galle Fort
The 16th century Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it holds the remnants of the Dutch past of Sri Lanka. Galle Fort is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by the European rulers. It was originally built by Portuguese to defend the Galle city, and then extensively fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century. With its colourful and fascinating history, the fort is a beautiful blend of European architecture and South Asian traditions. It offers breathtaking views of the Galle town, Indian Ocean and the Galle International Cricket Stadium.
2. Galle International Cricket Stadium
Galle International Cricket Stadium is the most beautiful stadium in Sri Lanka, and is considered to be the luckiest venue for Sri Lankan cricket team. Situated near the glorious Galle fort and fringed on both sides by the mighty Indian Ocean, it is also known as one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. Built in the 19th century, the stadium was initially used as a race course.
3. Galle Clock Tower
Galle Clock Tower is located within the Galle Fort and is a popular landmark of the city. The tower was constructed in 1883 through public subscription and the same is inscribed on the plate of the tower. It’s quite fascinating to look at this iconic building that echoes the grandeur of a bygone era.
4. Galle Light House
Galle Light House is the oldest light house in Sri Lanka. It is an 87 feet high spectacular white structure. The light house is maintained and used by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. It serves the purpose of guiding ships safely into and out of the harbour. Lined with multiple palm trees around it, it is one of the best photo spots in Galle.
5. Flag Rock Bastion
The southernmost part of the Galle fort is a Flag Rock Bastion that was originally used as a signalling station to warn ships of the hazardous rocky stretches of the bay. Today, it offers jaw dropping views of the mighty Indian Ocean. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocks and the cool sea breeze brushing through your hair, makes your visit worthwhile. You may also spot some ships sailing at a distance.
6. Meeran Jumma Mosque
Built in 1904, Meeran Jumma Masjid is one of the biggest mosques in Sri Lanka. The unusual architecture of the mosque is a blend of British Victorian and Islamic detailing. This beautiful white structure has a lovely interior with colorful floor tiles and stained-glass work, combining eclectic style with a dash of baroque.
7. All Saints Church
All Saints Church is a 19th century Anglican Church located within the Galle Fort. This church does not receive much visitors or much care, however, it is one of the fascinating places to visit in Galle. With its Victorian Gothic Revival style, the church is intriguingly impressive and gives you a sense of antiquity. At the same time, it also gives you some spooky vibes. The grounds of the church is filled with old tombstones, with messages written in different languages on their headstones. Quite a place to explore!
8. Saint Mary’s Church
Saint Mary’s Church a beautiful Cathedral dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The church was built in the 19th century by the Society of Jesus. It is famous for its striking facade, remarkable architecture, stained glass windows, an old organ (musical instrument) and twin-bell towers. The church oozes old-colonial vibes. Since it’s situated on a hill overlooking the fort, it offers expansive views of the city.
9. Dutch Reformed Church
Dutch reformed church is one of the oldest Protestant churches in the country that’s still in use. Also, known as Groote Kerk Church, it is a combination of a museum, a historical building and an active place of worship. With it’s stained glass windows and peaceful ambience, it is a little piece of calm in the chaos of the city. The museum provides a rich insight into the Dutch era – a must visit for history buffs.
10. Fort Shri Sudarmalaya Buddhist Temple
Fort Shri Sudarmalaya Buddhist Temple is a small Buddhist temple located at the edge of the town. The temple houses a Stupa, bright colourful murals and impressive statues, including a Reclining Buddha. It’s a beautiful and calm place for some peaceful moments in the hustle of the Galle city.
11. Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya
Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya is a quiet rock temple which is believed to be more than 2000 years old. The temple showcases how religion is deeply interlaced with the way of life. The temple is carved out of a rock and it houses a stupa, a very old tree, temple with paintings, huge stones and life size statues of Buddha carved out of stones. Quite a peaceful and equally intriguing place to visit!
12. Rumassala Mountain
Rumassala is a small forest-covered hill near to the Rumassala beach. It’s history is associated with the great Indian epic, Ramayana. It is believed that Lord Hanuman broke a part of a mountain of herbs to find Sanjeevani for Lord Laxman. The mountain was thrown away after getting the desired herb. This fallen part was the origin of Rumasalla. The sea, the hill and the forest of Rumasalla are declared as a wildlife sanctuary. The hill is a home to more than 150 species of herbs. Rumasalla Pagoda offers beautiful views of this mountain.
13. National Maritime Archaeology Museum
This fascinating museum houses a lot many artefacts recovered from the local shipwrecks. These items include coins, anchors, shipping goods, pottery, bottles etc. The museum shows the history of shipping in Sri Lanka over the millennia. It also houses some interesting sailing vessels used by the ancient locals.
14. Folk Museum
The Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum Complex provides a rare insight into the life of Southern Sri Lankans and their folk culture. The museum is a fascinating collection of artifacts that depict the life of fishermen, their lifestyle and traditional cuisines, Kolam masks, ancient jewellery, colonial crockery, various artefacts from folk dances and religious ceremonies etc. The museum was originally the ancestral home of a renowned Sri Lankan writer and poet, Martin Wickramasinghe. A section of the house that survived the rigours of time has been converted into a museum. It’s quite an interesting place to visit for history and art lovers.
15. Hikkaduwa Beach
Hikkaduwa is a coastal town in the Galle district of Sri Lanka. Hikkaduwa beach is known for its beautiful corals and rich marine life. it’s a piece of paradise for snorkelers and divers. Owing to its good waves, the beach is popular for surfing sports as well. Hikkaduwa beach is also a party lovers delight. The beach is famous for its nightlife and beach parties.