Early Years of the Fort
Galle Fort is one of Sri Lanka’s five historic UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is the largest fortress in Asia that was built by Europeans invaders. For 200 years, it served as a major seaport for ships travelling between Europe and Asia. The fort was originally built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, but their design of the structure was focused on the defence of the northern land-side entry point to Galle. They believed the seaward side to be impenetrable and therefore did not fortify it, focusing their efforts instead on constructing palisades, a rampart and three bastions. However, when Sri Lanka was under Dutch rule, these defences were deemed insufficient and Galle Fort was fully encircled by fortifications; 14 bastions built of coral and granite stones lined a perimeter containing 130 acres and defended the Galle Fort from attacks on all sides.
Location and Present State
There are two gates from which to enter the Fort, which are the Main Gate and the Old Gate. The Main Gate, sometimes called the British Gate, is situated directly to the south of the Galle International Cricket Stadium and is heavily fortified, flanked by the Star, Moon and Sun Bastions. This gate was originally defended by a drawbridge and surrounded by a moat that was built by the Portuguese, before being widened by the Dutch. However, the British had the final hand in the construction of the gate to better allow the flow of traffic in and out of the Fort.