Galle Harbour

Hi There!

We start our tour overlooking this rather sleepy looking bay. Looking at it now its probably hard to imagine its place on the world stage centuries ago.

Long before the centuries of colonial rule, the Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Indians, and Chinese, were all doing business here. In 1292 the Venetian Adventurer, Marco Polo had passed through Galle, and called it the Finest Island in the world!

The European interest in Ceylon all started with the spice, Cinnamon. It was found in Europe in the middle ages, when Arab traders started transporting the spice there via cumbersome land routes. With only a limited, expensive supply, the use of cinnamon became a status symbol in Europe, and the demand escalated. Struggling to meet the increasing demand, European explorers set out to find the spice’s mysterious source.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to colonise ceylon. In 1505, adverse winds had thrown the fleet of the Portuguese explorer Lorenzo de almeida off course, when he heard the sound of a cockerel crowing. He searched the horizon with his telescope and saw the shores of Galle. According to legends, he then named the area Gallo after the Portuguese word for Cockerel, apparently giving Galle its present day name.

The Portuguese colonised most of the islands coastal regions, to gain control of the global cinnamon trade. This natural harbour played its part. The departure point from which the cigar shaped golden spice, reached the far corners of the world.

To continue the tour, proceed to stop 2. The Old Dutch Gate.

  • Galle Harbour