Galle has a very different feel to it than other Sri Lankan cities we visited. At least as far as the pretty old town is concerned (that shows few marks of the devastation of the 2004 tsunami).
The old town, basically a city within a fortress, looks more akin to a medieval place in Europe. That is thanks to the first Portuguese (16th century) and second Dutch (18th century) colonial architecture throughout. In fact, Galle Fort is the largest fortress built by Europeans in all of Asia.
Galle Fort daredevils
While wandering along the walls of the fort, we spotted locals jumping off a rock into the water. Its pretty shallow there and the water rocky – in short it is not without risks. This tradition apparently goes back to the 90’s (as per this article) and is a mix of ego and making some money off tourists. Crazy stuff!
It also feels different in other ways than buildings – on the street are almost exclusively tourists, it is the only place i recall with a visible muslim presence (people & the calls of the muezzin. 🕌 🙏 The latter are Sri Lankan moors that make up 26% of inhabitants and have descended from Arab traders that settled here.
Definitely a city worthwhile seeing. Be it only for an afternoon.