It has withstood varied assaults from man and nature for four and a half centuries. Unscathed even by a devastating tsunami, it holds fast against the tide of modernization. A grand vestige of Dutch rule, the Galle Fort was in fact first built by the Portuguese in 1588 and extensively fortified by the Dutch from 1649 onwards: improving the ramparts and the bastions – 14 in all, protecting the city within. Although later captured by the British, the city was left unchanged; and a strong Dutch influence remains to this day. 21st century life inside the Fort continues to be an eclectic mix of cultures, race and religion and a sense of timelessness pervades. The enchanting beauty of narrow cobbled streets and old architecture contrast with the impressive fortifications and the two grand gateways: their carved Dutch Coat of Arms impassively watching all who enter to admire the feats of their proud ancestry.

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