The Southern Capital. Today, Galle is the bustling provincial capital and administrative centre of the south. Galle was an ancient port (said to be the legendary Tarshish of the Bible), and our first international commerce and trade centre. The Nati
This city (pop. 109,000) on the southern coast is a must-see for colonial architecture buffs. Its main attraction is a 17th-century Dutch fort, one of the most extensive monuments left by European colonialists. Although many of the structures that made up the fort are in serious decay, the outer walls are completely intact. If you walk along the top of the walls at dusk, you'll see dozens of cricket games, an old lighthouse, beautiful views of the town's harbour and hundreds of Sri Lankan people out socializing. Within the fort, visit any of several old churches (including a Dutch church dating from the mid 18th century) or simply stroll the narrow streets to get a good look at the old buildings. The New Oriental Hotel (originally the Dutch governor's office) is one of the oldest in Sri Lanka (the veranda and lobby are in better shape than its rooms). It's another great place to stop for a drink. Galle's beach is not of the most attractive but Unawatuna, only 5 km south of Galle, has a pretty cove-protected beach, good snorkelling and a hilltop dagoba.