Pen and ink drawing, by an anonymous artist, of Point de Galle in Sri Lanka, dated 1796. This image is inscribed on the front in ink: 'Point de Galle. 1796'. Galle, on the south-western coast of the island, has a natural harbour and is one of the most ancient settlements of Sri Lanka, a port from pre-Christian times. It is protected by a promontory called the Rock or Galle Point. Galle was the main port of the island even though the entrance to its harbour was dangerous because of submerged rocks and reefs. The Portuguese arrived here in the early 16th century and built a small fort which they fortified under attack from the Dutch. Galle was taken by the Dutch in 1640 and prospered while they rebuilt the town and strengthened its fortifications. The British replaced from the Dutch in 1796 but their commercial interests were concentrated in Colombo and in the 19th century Galle gradually declined in importance. It was supplanted by Colombo as chief port after the construction of the breakwater at Colombo harbour in the 1870s. Today it is a quiet and scenic town with many surviving structures from the Dutch settlement lending it interest.