Galle is a major city in Sri Lanka, situated on the southwestern tip, 116 km from Colombo. Galle is the administrative capital of Southern Province, Sri Lanka and it is the fifth largest city in Sri Lanka after the capital Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna and Nigambo.


Galle was known as Gimhathitha, in ancient times and the term is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhalese term meaning “port near the river Gin”. It is believed that the town got its name as Gaalla in the native tongue as a result of the large number of bullock carts that took shelter in the area, following the long slow journeys from remote areas of the island. “Gaala” in Sinhala means the place where cattle are herded together and hence the Sinhalese name for Galle; it is a development from ‘Gaala’. Another theory is that the word Galle is derived from the Dutch word ‘Gallus’ which means rooster. The Dutch have also used the rooster as a symbol of Galle.

The history of Galle starts in 1505, when a small fleet of Portuguese ships, under the command of Lorenzo de Almeida, on their way to the Maldives, were blown off course by a storm. Realizing that the king resided in Kotte, close to Colombo Lorenzo proceeded there after a brief stop in Galle.In 1640, the Portuguese had to surrender to the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch built the present fort in the year 1663. They built a fortified wall, using solid granite, and built three bastions, known as “Sun”, “Moon” and “Star”.

After the British took over the country from the Dutch in the year 1796, they preserved the Fort unchanged, and used it as the administrative center of the district.

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