The Dutch Fort and Colonial Architecture
Commonly referred to as the Galle Dutch Fort, the Fort was initially built in the Bay of Galle on the south-west coast of Sri Lanka, in 1588, by the Portuguese. Although originally built by the Portuguese and later developed by the Dutch and the British, it covers nearly four sq km’s, and is protected by 12 bastions and connecting ramparts. It stands to date as a historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument, which even after four centuries still retains a polished appearance, due of course to extensive reconstruction work done by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. The fort has a colourful history and its environs boast a multi-ethnic and multi-religious population. It has also been recognised by UNESCO and inscribed a World Heritage Site under criteria IV for its unique exposition of “an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries.” The Fort is also known as the “Ramparts of Galle.”
During the early 18th century, the Old Dutch Gate was the entrance point to the Fort. Subsequently, the British built the Main Gate, which is still used today. The other buildings in Fort which are of particular architectural value include the Dutch Reformed Church, All Saints Church, Amangalla Hotel (formerly the New Oriental Hotel), the lighthouse and bell tower. The Dutch also developed what was then an innovative tide-based sewage-system within the Fort. A maze of narrow roads lined with small houses and shops bearing Dutch names still remain. Recently, a spate of old colonial houses within the Fort have been renovated and transformed into exquisite boutique villas and hotels retaining their colonial architectural features including arches, columned courtyards, verandas and high ceilings.