Galle Harbour [from ramparts]
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Galle Harbour in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) from the ramparts, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1860s. 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 entrance to its harbour was dangerous because of submerged rocks and reefs, until supplanted in the 1870s after the construction of breakwaters in the development of Colombo's harbour. The Portuguese arrived in the early 16th century and built the small fort of Santa Cruz here which they reinforced with fortifications under Dutch pressure. It was after Galle was captured by the Dutch in 1640 that it achieved its greatest prosperity. The English replaced the Dutch in 1796 but made few changes to the town and today it is the surviving Dutch architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries which lends Galle its charm. The old fortifications remain and the old town is enclosed by the Dutch-built ramparts running from north to south along the rocky contours of the headland.