Street, Point de Galle.
Photographer: Fiebig, Frederick
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Frederick Fiebig from an album of 70 handcoloured salt prints, of a street in Point de Galle in Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Fiebig's photographs of Ceylon, probably taken in 1852, are considered the earliest surviving photographic record of the island. 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. In the 16th century Portuguese colonists built the small fortress of Santa Cruz here. It was reinforced when the town was conquered by the Dutch in 1640, and later fell to the British when they occupied the island. A large town had grown inside the walls of the fort and the Sinhalese local population lived outside the walls. Today the houses, ramparts, bastions and gateways of the Dutch Colonial period survive together with a Dutch church dated 1752-54 which is still in use.