Portuguese Black Fort of Galle


The history of the Galle Fort goes back to 1588 when king Rajasinghe I (1581–93) of Sitawaka attacked the Portuguese capital of Colombo forcing them to retreat to Galle, one of the flourishing ports from the ancient times. Here they built a small fort out of palm trees, coral stones and mud. They called it the Santa Cruz and later in 1625, extended it with a watch tower and three bastions and a Fortaleza to guard the harbour.

After the Portuguese conceded Galle to Dutch in 1640, the fort was expanded to its current size in 1643 and they called Santa Cruz the "Black Fort" or " Zwart Fort" ( Zwart Bastian). Why this Bastian was called the Black Fort is debatable, while some believe this was due the continuous thick curls of smoke emanating from cannons and guns in the Bastian and others believe that the name is due to being the location used as the holding cell for African slaves brought to the island by the Dutch.

Around 2000-2001, a section of the Black Fort, and on top of it, a number of ancient prison cells collapsed and a section of the Sailors Bastion was washed out, due to high seas. The Sailors Bastion is the only one, which is not protected by coral reefs. It was therefore vulnerable for high waves. The Central Cultural Fund (CCF) undertook conservation works and in 2006 funded by Netherlands and now has been completed.

The official residence of the Senior DIG of police for Southern Province and his office is located inside this ancient Black Fort. Ealier you had to take special permission of the DIG's office to access this site. But now this site is open to the public. A foot path has been built across the DIG's office land with sign boards towards the fort.