Galle Fort is one of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was originally built by the Portuguese and then further developed by the Dutch. It is protected by 12 bastions. You can walk on the connecting ramparts to see all of them, surrounding the Old City of Galle on its walls, enjoying views to both sides, the Indian Ocean and the colonial houses inside the fort. The northern side of the city walls are higher, because this is the only landside of the peninsula city. Here you have also a perfect view to the modern Cricket Stadium of Galle, which is one of Sri Lanka’s top 3 international stadiums.
Besides Mirissa, Galle has established itself as the world's top spot for Blue Whale watching. Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel atop a hillock of Galle became a renowned starting point for these amazing wildlife excursions. During the season from November to April, those largest animals that ever existed can be seen almost every day just a few miles from the shore, the strike rate of over 95%. Furthermore, Sperm Whales can be seen occasionally close to them, in pods numbering as much as 50 animals. Occasionally, Spinner Dolphins can also be spotted on the same boat trip, in pods of over one thousand individuals.
Unawatuna is Sri Lanka’s nicest beach at the western and southern shores of the country. It’s popular with backpackers, but very suitable for Aurveda or family holidays, too. The beach is protected b a coral reef, thus there are less underwater currents and waves are more quiet.
The surrounding of Galle is the most important cinnamon growing region in the entire world. Sri Lanka is the country of origin of the Cinnamon tree and only Ceylon Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) is truely cinamon of highest quality, not a cheap substitute from eastern Asia. Some plantations near Galle allow holiday makers to visit their plantations or even offer highly informative guided tours and visits of a factory to see the processing and packaging methods.
The Galle National Museum is housed in an old Dutch period building inside Galle Fort. It represents the colonial history of the Portuguese and Dutch period, but also cultural and historical influences of the Muslims. Exhibits include weaponry, household goods and crafts.
High on the headland of Unawatuna Bay, halfway to Galle, is Rhumassala Temple. The tranquil area, inviting hikers in particular, is well-known for the natural beauty of the coastal scenery and for its flora and avifauna, particulalry for the natural medicinal herbs. Hindus believe the reason for the abundance in herbs is a famous episode of the Ramayana story, Rumassala being a rock originally belonging to the Himalayas.
The Dutch Reformist Church, built in 1750 highest point in the Old City of Galle, is the oldest remaining church in the south of the island. On the floor you will find some gravestones with inscriptions in Dutch language. A restoration plan for this church was drawn up in 2001 and carried out with financial subsidies and lots of scientific support of the Netherlands.
The Maritime Museum gives an insight into the marine eco-systems and fishing techniques. There are exhibits of seafarer and fishing craftsastal fisherman, and marine and the fauna and flora found off the southern coast.
Those who already know the Maldives will be disappointed by Sri Lanka’s cral reefs. However, scuba diving is a holiday activity, Sri Lanka has to offer, too. Cave diving and wreck driving are amongst Sri Lanka’s special attractions for divers spending their holidays in South Asia. For example, the PADI diving centre based in Unawatuna offers classes and excursions. Galle, diving is suitable for beginners and advanced divers alike. The best diving season is the local high season anyway, from December to March.
The peace pagoda and jungle beach are at the oppsite side of Galle’s harbour, in the Rumassala area. The Japanese sponsored modern pagoda is worth a visit, the views are stunning overlooking the bay of Galle. You can see the famous Galle Fort from a distance here.
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