Galle was said to be the ancient city of Tarshish. As legend has it, the port traded not only with Persians and Egyptians, but also with King Solomon. The place suits this romantic notion, for it remains something of a time warp and preserves a distinctive character - European architecture with South Asian influences. This is thanks to the fort built by the Dutch in 1663 and further fortified by the Portuguese, which continues to protect the buildings within. Walk through the fort gates, and wander and wonder at the beguiling collection of buildings and culture stretching back centuries.
Fort Galle remains a functioning community, with offices, local companies and people living and working here. Some of the old villas are now boutique hotels, and some vintage Dutch villas are now rental properties, adding further to the ambience, as does the Galle Literary Festival. The ramparts surrounding this eclectic mix make for a splendid walk with splendid views, particularly from the old magazine by the 20-metre-high lighthouse - built by the British in 1939. In one direction lies the ever-changing sea, on the other the preserved architectural delights of this World Heritage Site.