Foot Print Holidays
Galle is the most important southern town. It has an old world charm. Its natural harbor was a famous fort in days gone by. In 1505 a Portuguese fleet set sail to intercept Moorish vessel carrying cargoes of spice, but it was driven off course and landed at what was to become the gateway to the south. The newcomers named the harbour, Galle, after the crowing cockerels that they heard at the end of the day – the Latin chanticleer is “Gallus”. Hence the name Punto de Gale, which the British later corrupted to Point De Galle.

Galle which is believed to be the possible location of the City of Tarshish, of Biblical fame, the source of the thriving trade in “Gold, Silver, Ivory, Apes and Peacocks”.

The Cultural Museum is housed in a Dutch colonial warehouse on Church Street as you enter the fort. Just beyond this is the New Oriental Hotel, which is neither new nor oriental, but the oldest hotel on the island – built by the Dutch in 1684 as their Governor’s headquarters. The lobby with the old maps on the walls and rattan “Chaises longue” on the verandah is a time machine transporting you back to the 1860’s when it first opened.

“De Grooth Kerk” or Dutch Reformed Church situated in Gall Fort was built by the Dutch Commander Casparus de Jong in gratitude for the birth of a long waited daughter, in 1755

The national Maritime Museum covers all aspects of life in and around the sea, including scale models of whales and an extraordinary “walk into the sea” diorama showing the construction of coral reefs.

An evening stroll around the fort walls and bastions in time for the sunset is something of a tradition, even among the locals. You can walk along the top of the walls, which are partly built of fossilized coral, nearly all the way around. Starting at the modern lighthouse at the bottom of Church Street, work your way around so that you are on one of the western bastions when the sun goes down.

On the promontory on the east side of the harbour is the Closenberg Hotel, which was once the residence of a Captain Bailey, who brought it from the British Crown in 1857, and named it “Villa Marina” after his wife.
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