Galle is a city situated on the southwestern
tip of Sri Lanka, 119
km from Colombo. Galle is the capital city of Southern Province of Sri Lanka and it lies
in Galle District.
Galle was known as Gimhathiththa (although Ibn Batuta in the 14th century refers to it as
Qali) before the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, when
it was the main port on the island. Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th
century, during the Dutch colonial period. The major river is Gin River (Gin Ganga) which
starts from Gongala Kanda and passing villages such as Neluwa, Nagoda, Baddegama, Thelikada,
and Wakwella, reaches the sea at Ginthota. In Wakwella over the river there is Wakwella Bridge,
which is the longest bridge in Sri Lanka.
Galle is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in south and southeast
Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and south Asian
traditions. The Galle fort is a world heritage site and the largest remaining fortress
in Asia built by European occupiers. Other prominent landmarks in Galle include the natural
harbor, the National Maritime Museum, St. Mary's Cathedral founded by Jesuit priests, one of the main Shiva temples on the island, and Amangalla the historic luxury hotel.
Galle is the main city in the most southerly part of the island, with a population of
around 100 000, and is connected by rail to Colombo and Matara. On 26 December 2004
the city was devastated by the massive Boxing Day Tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian
Ocean earthquake that occurred a thousand miles away, off the coast of Indonesia.
Thousands were killed in the city alone. Galle is home to a cricket ground, the Galle
International Stadium, rebuilt after the tsunami. Test matches resumed there on
December 18, 2007.
Galle offers a unique opportunity to create a visible demonstration of the conservation
of its inheritance. Galle is also an exciting, internationally famous visitor destination.
Rumassala in Unawatuna is a large mound-like hill, which forms the eastern protective
barrier to the Galle harbour. Local tradition associates this hill with some events of