iSurprise Old Chapel & Graveyard

How Church Street got its name

Big Church

Here was Galle’s first church, a Franciscan chapel built by the Portuguese. When the Dutch conquered Fort in 1640, they happily used this building for their services and called it ‘Groote Kerk or ‘big church’. Yet, when one day the structure collapsed, they had little choice but to gather for worship wherever they could find a big enough space, in the spice warehouse or in the gunpowder storeroom near the lighthouse. Nearly a century later, when the Dutch finally completed the Reformed Church further down the street, they moved there. But the name ‘Church Street’ remains until today.

Moving graves

The graveyard that was located behind the church faced Moor Street (now known as Peddlar’s Street). When the church moved, also the tombstones were removed from this site and fixed on the floor of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Heritage hotel

In the British period, this was open land. In recent years the grounds have become home to ‘The Heritage’ a newly built hotel in Dutch style. You may still find old spirits wandering around, the archaeological surveys found some skeletons here when they excavated the site.

Opens in a new window