All Saints Church, Galle Fort, Sri Lanka


Situated within the Galle Fort, which was declared as a "WORLD HERITAGE SITE" in 1988 by UNESCO
Galle Fort
About Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
Galle, 116 km (74miles) located at southwest corner of the island is the largest town in the region. To arrive at Galle, drive along the Galle road (western coastal road) or along the contry's first expressway E01. The town got its name as 'Gaalla' in the native tongue as a result of the large number of bullock carts that took shelter therein following the long slow journeys from remote areas of the island.
 
The Biblicical history of Galle
According to Sir James Emerson Tennant Galle was the "Tarshish" referred to in the Bible. It was to Galle that King Solomon sent emissaries to procure the jewel that won him the heart of Queen Sheba. Owing to its strategic position on the sea routes between Arabia, India & Southeast Asia, the natural harbour & the picturesque seaside resort area surrounding it, Galle had become the centre of trade in olden days where sailing vessels laden with merchandize from Egypt, Persia, Arabia, South India, Malaysia, Singapore and the Eastern China converged.
 
Besides traders & merchants, there are records of visits by legendary voyagers, such as traveler Fa Hein from China and traveler Marco Polo from the West. Perhaps the earliest recorded reference to Galle comes from the great Arab traveler Ibn Battuta, who observed Moorish vessels in the harbour in 1344.

In 1505 a Portuguese fleet with Lorenzo De Almeida, the son of the Viceroy of Goa at the helm, set sail to intercept Moorish vessels carrying cargoes of spice, but the fleet was blown off course & landed at what was to become the colonial gateway to the south. It is said newcomers christened the harbour Punto de Gale, after the crowing cockerels (gallo in Portuguese, gallus in Latin) that they heard.

In 1587 the Portuguese built a small fort, which they named Santa Cruz & followed up the construction with a series of bastions & walls.

The Portuguese socio-cultural imprints are particularly strong in the language, religion, education, administration, food, dress, names, music and drama. The surnames Fernando, Perera, De Silva, Mendis, De Soysa, De Mel, Peiris & and personal names Don, Dona Peduru, Franciscu, Juvan, Singho, are some of them. Baila music was first introduced here by the Portuguese.

In 1640 the Dutch defeated the Portuguese & persecuted them until they left these shores. The Dutch constructed huge ramparts and an enchanting Fort which forms a landmark in Galle that gives splendour to the town. They planned a township occupying most of the promontory (36 hectares) inside the fort with criss-cross roads and low roofed houses with massive walls and large doors and windows.

In 1796, following the Dutch capitulation in the Napoleonic Wars, the British took over the Galle fort. Galle continued to serve as Ceylon's principal harbour for much of the18th century. But then the improvements to Colombo harbour commenced to erode the trade & commerce in Galle. By the early 20th century, Galle lapsed into a tranquil decline, which by providence allowed the Dutch heritage in Ceylon to survive completely intact. It's a delightfully quiet & easy going.

The old lighthouse with the lantern at the height of 92 feet above low-water, built in 1848 was burnt down in 1936. The new light was built in 1940 at Utreeth Bastion in the same street, lighthouse street called 'Zeeburgstraat' 'Middelpuntstraat' during the Dutch period. The lantern is 92 feet above low-water level.

The small Dutch Reformed Church is the oldest Protestant place of worship in Sri Lanka – dating from 1755, although the original structure was built 100 years earlier. The rather plain interior is one of Galle’s most atmospheric period pieces, its floor lined with the gravestones of former Dutch citizens and with a finely carved pulpit and organ loft and various wall tablets recording the lives (and deaths) of later British settlers.

Some of the important heritage monuments in the fort are the Dutch Reformed Church; the old Dutch government house; the National Maritime Museum near the Old Gate, residence of the Commander; Great Warehouse built around 1669 to store spices, ship equipment and so forth; the Meera Mosque built in 1904; Buddhist temple built at the site of Portuguese Roman Catholic church; the All Saints Anglican Church built in 1871; and the Clock Tower dated 1707 and cast in 1709, which rang every hour
In 1969, Galle fort was declared an archeological reserve by the U. N. In December 1988, UNESCO declared Galle Fortress as a World Heritage Site. A Parliament Act titled Galle Heritage Foundation Act was passed in 1994 in Sri Lanka. In the years following independence, Galle has recovered some of its lost dynamism. Today, once again Galle has become an important harbour of the Island.

Galle Fort houses eight religious institutions that include Temples, Y.M.B.A, Y.W.C.A churches, Mosques, Zaviyas and Thakkiyas etc, that have pioneered and propagated religion and upheld all cultural values, morals, traditions, customs and other activities for several centuries.
 
The view from the ramparts
Leyn Baan Street leads down to the seafront ramparts, where you’ll find the florid Meeran Jumma Mosque, at the heart of Galle’s Muslim quarter, and the town’s picturesque old lighthouse. From here, you can walk all the way around the town’s well-preserved old stone and coral ramparts, which offer breezy sea views on one side and picturesque panoramas of the red-tiled rooftops of Galle Fort on the other. It’s particularly popular towards dusk, when half the town seems to come here to admire the spectacular sunsets, play impromptu games of cricket, or smooch under umbrellas.
 
Galle goes global
The evidence of the foreign influx is apparent everywhere: in the string of bijou shops and cafés that now line the streets of the fort; in the town’s new swathe of luxury villas and upmarket hotels; and in the steady string of cultural events, most notably the Galle Literary Festival, now bringing the city to a global audience.
(Source - The Internet)

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