Historically, the fortified town of Galle has been a significant trading port. More than 1,000 years ago it was the essential port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders. Later the Javanese and Sumatrans came, followed by Marco Polo in 1299 AD. It was with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505 AD that a small foreign trading post was established. When the Kingdom of Kandy forced the Portuguese out of their Colombo fort in 1589 AD, a Portuguese settlement commenced in earnest with a fort of palm trees and mud.
Among other early buildings was a Capuchin convent followed by the Black Fort known as Santa Cruz. In 1640 AD, the Dutch captured the fortress of Galle and, to protect their presence, they needed a garrison – hence the fort. Galle Fort was built by 1663 AD with great ramparts and bastions, but not fully completed until 1715 AD. In 1684 AD the headquarters for the commandeur were built on the corner of the present Church and Middle Streets, the start of what now comprises Amangalla.
Today, leaving the Fort through the gate brings into view the town of Galle, which is best explored on foot or by bicycle. It is a sprawling town, both friendly and interesting to visitors. The colourful fruit market offers an exotic array of produce while the bustle of Main Street is also well worth experiencing.