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Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications

Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications

Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.

Vieille ville de Galle et ses fortifications

Fondée au XVIe siècle par les Portugais, Galle a atteint son apogée au XVIIIe siècle, avant l'arrivée des Britanniques. C'est le meilleur exemple d'une ville fortifiée construite par les Européens en Asie du Sud et du Sud-Est qui illustre l'interaction entre l'architecture européenne et les traditions de l'Asie du Sud.

مدينة غال القديمة وتحصيناتها

تأسست غال على يد البرتغاليين في القرن السادس عشر لكنها بلغت أوجها في القرن الثامن عشر قبل وصول البريطانيين إليها. وهي تشكل المثال الأفضل للمدن المحصنة التي بناها الاوروبيون في جنوب وجنوب شرق آسيا والتي تجسد التفاعل بين الهندسة الاوروبية وتقاليد جنوب آسيا.

source: UNESCO/ERI

加勒老城及其堡垒

加勒老城始建于16世纪,由葡萄牙人所建,在18世纪时达到鼎盛时期,在英国人入侵之后,开始逐渐衰败。加勒老城由南欧人和东南亚人共同修建,是一个融合了欧洲和南亚传统建筑风格的典型堡垒城市。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Старая часть и укрепления города Галле

Основанный в XVI в. португальцами, город достиг своего расцвета в XVIII в., перед тем, как перейти к англичанам. Это лучший пример укрепленного города, построенного европейцами в Южной и Юго-Восточной Азии, демонстрирующий взаимосвязь между архитектурными стилями Европы и традициями Южной Азии.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Ciudad vieja de Galle y sus fortificaciones

Fundada por los portugueses en el siglo XVI, Galle alcanzó su apogeo en el siglo XVIII, antes de la llegada de los británicos. Es el mejor ejemplo de ciudad fortificada construida por los europeos en el Asia Meridional y Sudoriental, en la que se puede apreciar la interacción de la arquitectura europea y las tradiciones arquitectónicas y artísticas del sur de Asia.

source: UNESCO/ERI

ゴール旧市街とその要塞群

source: NFUAJ

Oude stad van Galle en haar vestingwerken

Galle werd in de 16e eeuw gesticht door de Portugezen. Na de inname door Nederlanders werd de stad versterkt met muren en veertien bastions. Galle bereikte het hoogtepunt van haar ontwikkeling in de 18e eeuw, voor de komst van de Britten. Het is het beste voorbeeld van een versterkte stad gebouwd door Europeanen in Zuid en Zuidoost Azië. Het laat de wisselwerking zien tussen Europese bouwstijlen en Zuid-Aziatische tradities. Het grootste deel van de muren werd gebouwd in 1663. De noordelijke versterkte poort, beschermd door een ophaalbrug en een gracht, stamt uit 1669.

Source: unesco.nl

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Old town of Galle © UNESCO
Long Description

Galle provides an outstanding example of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The most salient feature is the use of European models adapted by local manpower to the geological, climatic, historical, and cultural conditions of Sri Lanka. In the structure of the ramparts, coral is frequently used along with granite. In the ground layout all the measures of length, width and height conform with the regional metrology. The wide streets, planted with grass and shaded by suriyas, are lined with houses, each with its own garden and an open veranda supported by columns, another sign of the acculturation of an architecture which is European only in its basic design.

The bay of Galle lies off the south-west coast of Sri Lanka, sheltered by a rocky peninsula. Mentioned as early as 545 in the cosmography of Cosmas Indicopleustes, it is one of the most ancient 'ports of call of the Levant'. When Ibn Batuta landed there in 1344, it was the principal port of Ceylon. Portuguese navigators settled there in 1505, two years before settling in Colombo. It seems that they preferred Colombo at first. In 1588, they decided to withdraw to Galle and they hastily constructed a rampart and three bastions to defend the peninsula on the northern landside. The seaward side was considered invulnerable and was not fortified.

Few vestiges subsist from a Franciscan chapel that was built in 1543. When the fortified town fell into the hands of the Dutch in 1640, they decided to replace the precarious Portuguese defences constituted partially of palisades and earth banks. They encircled the whole of the peninsula with a bastioned stone wall so as to render it impregnable against the English, French, Danish, Spanish and Portuguese fleets vying with Holland for the supremacy of the sea.

This fortified city, built by the Dutch, exists still, but with few changes. It has an area of 52 ha inside the walls defended by 14 bastions. The majority of the curtain walls were built in 1663. The northern fortified gate, protected by a drawbridge and a ditch, bears the date 1669. Much of the city, laid out on a regular grid pattern adapted to the configuration of the terrain (north-south peripheral streets are parallel to the ramparts and not to the central traffic axes), dates from this period.

During the 18th century, protected by a sea wall finished in 1729, the city reached full development. It housed 500 families, and a large number of public administrations, trade establishments and warehouses were located there. A Protestant, Baroque-style church, the oldest in Sri Lanka, was constructed in 1775 for the European colonists and a few Christian converts from plans drawn up by Abraham Anthonisz. However, Galle remained essentially a stronghold. In the layout of the city the Commandant's residence, the arsenal and the powder house were prominent features. The forge, carpentry and rope-making workshops, the naval guardhouse, and barracks rounded out a system that closely linked prosperous trade to military security.

The fort of Galle was handed over to the English only on 23 February 1796, one week after the surrender of Colombo. As a British protectorate, Galle remained the administrative centre of the south of Ceylon. A number of unfortunate modifications were then made: ditches filled in, new blockhouses added, a gate put in between the Moon bastion and the Sun bastion, a lighthouse installed on the Utrecht bastion, and a tower erected for the jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1883. Other work was undertaken during the Second World War in order to restore the defensive function of the fortifications.

Taken together these alterations, few in number, as can be seen from the above, have not seriously modified the original city plan. Galle remains the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC