Galle Fort’s ghosts speak at night. In dim lit cobble stone streets, with waves thundering off the coral lime and granite stone rampart walls, the town seems more real, more intimate. A UNESCO world heritage site in Sri Lanka, the 400 plus year old fort is built on the foundations of Portuguese, Dutch, British and Sri Lankan history.
(Image courtesy of Sri Lankan National Commission for UNESCO)
MARKERS OF HISTORY
Within Galle Fort’s stone walls and narrow streets, markers of the town’s history lay scattered about. The fort gates are marked with old coats of arms. Colorful names such as the Aurora, Star, Moon and Sun bastions, Pedlar street, Dutch Hospital and New Orient Hotel speak to the town’s past. Gravestones etched with skulls and bones pave old church floors.
A SLOW DAY
During the day, waves of uniform clad school children laugh and play, with parents congregating outside the gates. Cafes, restaurants and small food shacks buzz with visitors. Galle Fort’s streets are strikingly clean, organized and calm. Well preserved and restored whitewashed buildings exude charm and tranquility. Stolen glimpses through arches reveal plant fringed open-air courtyards, dark wood beams and colorful tile.
As the sun sets, and the heat recedes, the rampart walls and vibrant greens come alive. Kites shoot forward into the sky, taking advantage of offshore winds. Bright multi-color Buddhist flags sizes flutter as free food flows in celebration of Vesak (Buddha Day). Small cricket games start. And locals and tourists enjoy a centuries old evening tradition, simply walking the breezy rampart walls from end to end, reveling in the beauty that is Galle Fort.