A sizeable town by SriLankan standards (nearly 100.000 inhab.), Galle is the one of the oldest and most famous trading ports in the Indian Ocean. Galle had been a prominent seaport long before western rule in the country. Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays and Indians were doing business through Galle port. The "modern" history of Galle starts in 1505, when the first Portuguese ship, under Lourenço de Almeida was driven there by a storm. However, the people of the city refused to let the Portuguese enter it, so the Portuguese took it by force.
In 1640, the Portuguese had to surrender to the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch built the present Fort in the year 1663. They built a fortified wall, using solid granite, and built three bastions, known as "sun", "moon" and "star". After the British took over the country from the Dutch in the year 1796, they preserved the Fort unchanged, and used it as the administrative centre of Galle.
Today the historic Galle is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in south and southeast Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and south Asian traditions, being UNESCO enlisted. Other prominent landmarks in Galle include St. Mary's Cathedral founded by Jesuit priests, one of the main Shiva temples on the island, and The Amangalla, a historic building now turned boutique hotel.