Galle Black Fort

The Black Fort of Galle, Sri Lanka
I had just got Bear posed with his trigger finger when a voice up the slope behind us called out “come and visit my home, The Black Fort, no tickets, come”, up the slope we went........
IMG_0060  IMG_0061 our left a Lady of Justice and her inscription.
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Our impromptu guide chatted away merrily as we passed a little guardhouse, through a tiny garden and to our left, nicely restored buildings, with evidence of restoration and redecoration.
Bear was soon posing in an original sentry box.
Black Fort, also called Zwart Fort, which can be reached after walking along the Galle fort wall, it is the oldest bastion built by the Portuguese and one of the fourteen bastions of this fort. It is called Black fort because in the ancient times this place was always covered in thick curls of smoke coming from canons and guns. The Galle fort or the Dutch fort that crowns the coastal area of Galle is nearly 500 years old and stood strongly in the face of many calamities. It survived the December 2004 earthquake and its glamour and fineness owe much to the archaeological teams.

The history of the Galle Fort goes back to 1588 when King Rajasinghe I (1581–93) of Sitawaka attacked the Portuguese capital of Colombo forcing them to retreat to Galle, one of the flourishing ports from the ancient times. Here they built a small fort out of palm trees, coral stones and mud. They called it the Santa Cruz and later in 1625, extended it with a watch tower and three bastions and a Fortaleza to guard the harbourAfter the Portuguese conceded Galle to Dutch in 1640, the fort was expanded to its current size in 1643 and they called Santa Cruz the “Black Fort” or ”Zwart Fort” (Zwart Bastian). Why this Bastian was called the Black Fort is debatable, while some believe this was due the continuous thick curls of smoke emanating from cannons and guns in the Bastian and others believe that the name is due to being the location used as the holding cell for African slaves brought to the island by the Dutch.

Around 2000-2001, a section of the Black Fort, and on top of it, a number of ancient prison cells collapsed and a section of the Sailors Bastion was washed out, due to high seas. The Sailors Bastion is the only one, which is not protected by coral reefs. It was therefore vulnerable for high waves. The Central Cultural Fund (CCF) undertook conservation works and in 2006 funded by Netherlands and now has been completed.

The official residence of the Senior DIG (Deputy Inspector General) of police for Southern Province and his office is located inside this ancient Black Fort. Earlier you had to take special permission of the DIG’s office to access this site. But now this site is open to the public. A foot path has been built across the DIG’s office land with sign boards towards the fort.



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Next, we went through a very old gate, down some steps to what used to be the armoury.





Our guide was very proud of his room where he had lived for the past ten years.





Opposite an old doorway with views across to Galle Port.





Galle Port and Marina across the bay.



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The prison block.



Steel Gate  2009 picture from the old days


The tunnel leads to the gate – beyond is the beach the fort used as its own. The fort from long ago showing cannon in place and the gate (seen to the left) and top left the prison block.

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Back through the tiny garden neatly edged by Anthurium. (Anthurium as defined by Heinrich Wilhelm Schott in 1829, is a genus of about 1000 species of flowering plants, the largest genus of the arum family, Araceae. General common names include anthurium, tailflower, flamingo flower and laceleaf).
Back past the little guardhouse, down the slope past the cannon and off we continued on our bimble.
                     FASCINATING FIND