iSee Black Fort

The oldest part of the Fort, also known as Fortaleza or Zwart Bastion

It was where the blacksmiths’ winkles were, hence the name Black Fort


Cinnamon was prized as high as gold in the 16th century so the pioneering Portuguese seafarers struck a deal with the local king and decided to build themselves some protection. That was Fortaleza. They picked a sheltered spot near the harbour and built a round stone bastion with a capuchin monastery and a gunpowder storage, protected with cannons and a network of tunnels.

Portuguese heritage

Trade was so lucrative that under the guidance of Thomas de Souza the Portuguese took control of the coast and established a Portuguese colony, with their own warehouses, a hospital and a Catholic Church. The dominance lasted about 50 years, 260 Portuguese families lived here and they left many traces in Galle: red roof tiles, white lace, a black Fort, but perhaps most importantly the name Galle.

Artillery commanders and police officers

The Dutch developed the Fortaleza as a bastion, it was the artillery commander’s’ post and also where the blacksmiths’ winkles were located. Hence the name Black Fort. The British turned it into a police station - the 2nd in the country - with an inspector, 2 sergeants and 19 police constables on duty. The black smith winkles became prison cells and the old gunpowder storage was stocked with something a little stronger: dynamite.

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