Conservation/Landscaping layout and presentation of the World Heritage Site at Galle

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Conservation/Landscaping layout and presentation of the World Heritage Site at Galle
Continent Asia
Countries Sri Lanka
Sites Galle
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Status Proposed
Type of Project Care & Management
Discipline Heritage management
Activity Sustainable development
Category Built heritage
Landscape, Fortification, Heritage Management, Sri Lanka

This project is part of a proposal for conservation and preservation of heritage sites with a special reference to the Eastern and Northern Provinces 2009-2012 issued by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage in Sri Lanka under the auspices of the Sri Lanka – Netherlands Cultural Cooperation Programme.

Galle was a port settlement before the advent of the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. Its importance as an inter-nation mercantile hub before the colonial era is evident by the tri-lingual (Chinese, Arabic and Tamil) inscriptions discovered in Galle. During the Portuguese occupation of the Maritime Provinces a fort of considerable size was established at Galle with fortifications facing the landside. When the Dutch took possession of the Maritime Provinces from the Portuguese in mid seventeenth century, they immediately recognized the importance of the strategic location of Galle. While strengthening the Portuguese fortification, the Dutch enlarged the fort by building massive fortifications with seven new bastions facing the sea. The port city of Galle was their administrative hub for the southern maritime province and was a strategic location of their maritime trading routes connecting the Dutch territories in the East.

This fortified city has been planned according to the iron grid pattern and it is comprised of an attractive street pattern with buildings nourished with distinctive architectural character, which is a mixture of both local and colonial Dutch traditions. The original usage of the buildings varied from dwellings to administrative buildings, the commander’s residence, secretariat, the town hall, court house, the trade offices, the pay offices, general warehouse, the church etc. The wide and high ramparts on all sides defining the city had a single gateway from the land side. When the British took control over the Maritime Provinces from the Dutch at the end of the eighteenth century they further consolidated the defensive system without altering the Dutch fortifications and constructed an additional gateway to the fort. While retaining the town plan and most of the built structures and street facades established by the Dutch, the British made some modifications to the urbanscape of the fort by adding new buildings and providing new infrastructure facilities to suit their administrative setup. Galle is the only living city in Sri Lanka where all the Dutch fortifications remained intact.

Recognizing the importance of Galle Fort as a site of antiquarian value, the Department of Archaeology declared it as a protected monument in 1974 under the Antiquities Ordinance. It was inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1988 and since then, it is becoming a major destination of cultural tourism in southern Sri Lanka. The major stakeholders are handling conservation and management of the fort. Which are the Department of Archaeology, Central Cultural Fund and Galle Heritage Foundation.

Under the Sri Lanka – Netherlands Cultural Cooperation Programme phase I 2006-2009 the Dutch Reformed Church and Dutch Warehouse were conserved and the conservation of the fortifications of the Galle Fort is in progress.

At present there is a lack of visitor information and signage at Galle Fort. There is also a lack of novelty in presenting the site to attract tourists. This suggest that a holistic approach is necessary to preserve the unique heritage of Galle Fort and a unified presentation system in necessary to present the site to the visitor,

Project information

The objectives of the project are preservation, development of a unified presentation strategy, promotion of Galle as a tourist hub and poverty alleviation of the local community.

The project expects to achieve a cease of deterioration of Galle Fort, conservation, management, maintenance and upgrade of tourist facilities etc. will be self financed through entry tickets to the Galle Fort and the economic and social condition of the local population will improve.

Project Proposal for Conservation and Preservation of Heritage Sites. Sri Lanka – Netherlands Cultural Cooperation Program with a special reference to Eastern and Northern Provinces. Phase II – 2009 – 2012. Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage, Sri Lanka, September 26, 2008.


Involved organisation(s)
Central Cultural Fund
Department of Archaeology Sri Lanka
Galle Heritage Foundation

Funding organisation(s)

Organisations referring to this project
Central Cultural Fund
Department of Archaeology Sri Lanka
Galle Heritage Foundation
Mutual Heritage Centre Sri Lanka

Involved expert(s)
Sudharshan Seneviratne
Mohan Abeyratne
Nilan Cooray
H.K. Balachandra
S.P.G. Chandraratne

Experts referring to this project
Mohan Abeyratne
H.K. Balachandra
S.P.G. Chandraratne
Nilan Cooray
Sudharshan Seneviratne

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