Galle is the capital city of the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. The town has a World Heritage Site to its name and that is predominantly responsible for its popularity with tourists. This is the 300-year-old Dutch Fort, but there are other historical buildings to view as well. If you are visiting from Colombo you can take the train or the bus to get to Galle.
The route is a coastal one and offers spectacular views along the way. The journey will not take more than three to four hours. Once in Galle Town your best bet to travel around in a tuk tuk or if you prefer you can walk around the town as well; it gives a better feel of the place.
Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.
Galle’s earliest historical existence is traced to Ptolemy’s world map of 125–150 AD when it was a busy port, trading with Greece, Arab countries, China and others. Its mention as a "port of call of the Levant' is made in the cosmography of the "Cosmas Indicopleustes". This is the harbour where the Portuguese, under the leadership of Lorenzo de Almeida, made their first landing in 1505 on the island and caused a notable change in the history of the island with their close friendship with Dharmaparakrama Bahu (1484–1514), the then king of the country. Before the Portuguese came here, Ibn Batuta had touched base at this port. This was the beginning of the fort’s history, which was built by the Portuguese, along with a Franciscan chapel (now mostly in ruins) inside the fort in 1541. The fort also, in later years, served as prison camp to incarcerate Sinhalese natives who opposed the Portuguese. The Portuguese had moved to Colombo from Galle as they preferred that place. In 1588, however, they were attacked by the Sinhalese King Raja Singha I (1581–93) of Sitawaka, which forced the Portuguese to go back to Galle. At Galle, they initially built a small fort out of palm trees and mud. They called it the Santa Cruz, and later extended it with a watch tower and three bastions and a "fortalice" to guard the harbour.