The picturesque old world town of Galle, with its perfectly preserved 90 acre Dutch fort constructed in 1663, owed its fame on account of the strategic position of its harbour.
It became the island’s chief port-of-call even before the coming of the Portuguese, Ibn Battuta and the Chinese admiral Zhang He came to Ceylon’s shores and there is mention of King Solomon sending ships “to procure gold, gems, ivory, apes and peacocks” and where Jonah fled from the Lord before being eaten by a whale.
In the 17th 18th and 19th centuries Galle was the preserve of European colonial powers and a centre for the cinnamon and spice trade, later it became the “Charing Cross” of the Indian ocean providing a welcome relief for travellers on their way to Far East, with regular stops of the P and O Steam Navigation company.
With construction of the breakwater in Colombo in 1875, Galle went into decline.
However in recent years Galle has become a mecca for foreign tourists, with the expatriates leading the charge for real estate which has set up a business’s to local people, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 and declared “the capital city of the Indian ocean” in 2015 at a dinner attended by the Prime Minister.
It is fast becoming the festival capital of South East Asia, with the Fairway Galle Literary Festival, the Gourmet Biriyani Festival Galle, the Tuk-Tuk Polo games, the Galle Film Festival, the Galle Jazz Festival, the Galle Fashion Show… it has become the alternative Riviera between Galle and Tangalle.
It is happening! Galle is making a statement to the world … come and join us!
… A Note from The Festival Founder
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