The Galle Lighthouse (also known as the Pointe de Galle Light) is Sri Lanka’s oldest light station, dating back to the mid-19th century and situated within the walls of the Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original Galle Lighthouse was established by the British in 1848 and was the first onshore lighthouse in the area, standing at 24.5 metres tall with a full view of the Galle Harbour. In 1934, a devastating fire destroyed the old lighthouse. This led to the construction of the current lighthouse in 1939, which stands taller than the original at 26.5 metres high and around 100 metres away from the site of its predecessor.
Changes Over the Years
The Galle Lighthouse is located about 4 kilometres away from Galle’s city centre, and has been built on the ramparts, approximately 6 metres above the level of the road, on a high point known as Point Utrecht Bastion. The original lighthouse contained a glass prism that sat within a mercury bath, which kept the lamp level and allowed it to rotate without undue friction. Lighthouse keepers were in charge of removing dirt and debris from the top of the bath, as well as periodically cleaning the liquid mercury, which exposed them daily to highly toxic levels of the metal. Today, however, the light within the Galle Lighthouse is fully automated, and the lighthouse keeper in charge need only climb up to ensure its upkeep.