Galle Face Green (Colombo)

Galle Face Green
Galle Face Green, also known as Galle Face Walk (Sinhala: ගාලු මුවදොර පිටිය/ ගාලු මුවදොර සක්මන Tamil: காலிமுகத் திடல்) is an ocean-margined urban park of around 12 acres which stretches for 500 m along the coast in the heart of the Colombo City, Sri Lanka (CCCDP, 2019). It is bounded to the north by Beira Lake and the ramparts of Colombo Fort, to the east by the Shangri-La Hotel Complex, ITC Colombo One and Taj Samudra Hotel and to the west by the Indian Ocean and to the south by the Galle Face Hotel. The park is fully accessible to the public and managed by the local government.

The site is used to host many events and functions such as Independence Day and New Year celebrations, religious and political gatherings, carnivals, mega concerts, kite festivals etc. (CCCDP, 2019). Presently, people visit the site more and more often to play informal games, ride, fly kites, exercise, jog, picnic or simply gaze at the sea.

Galle Face Green originally had extended over a much larger area than it exists today. The site is said to have been first used by the Dutch (Dutch Ceylon: 1640–1796 A.D.) to aim their cannons at the Portuguese (Portuguese Ceylon: 1597-1658 A.D.).

In around 1821, during the time of the British Governor Sir Edward Barnes (office: 1820-1822/1824–1831), the site was filled with earth and levelled to make the country's first racecourse (Basnayaka, 2002). The ground was used for horse races until 1893 when horse racing moved to the Colombo Racecourse. The site was later used as a golf course and as a ground for other sports such as cricket and rugby.

In 1856, Governor Sir Henry George Ward (office: 1855-1860) started to construct a seafront walk using the Kabok and other building materials dismantled from the Ancient Kotte City and completed it in 1859 (Manathunga, 2016). A rock tablet at the sea-ward edge of the present Galle Face Green has the following inscription engraved in English;

GALLE FACE WALK, Commenced by Sir Henry Ward 1856, Completed 1859 and recommended to his successors in the interest of the Ladies and Children of Colombo

In the 1920s, the British built A Cenotaph at the Galle Face Green but, it was dismantled and moved to a site near Viharamahadevi Park during World War II (1939-1945) after fears that the Japanese warships might use it as a marker to direct their artillery (Cornelissen & Weinrich, 2020; Jackson, 2017).
2022 Protests
In 2022, wide-scale protests against the Sri Lankan government arose around the country and protestors majorly camped at the Galle Face Green and established the temporary GotaGoHome village demanding the resignation of then-President Gotabaya Rajapakse.

1) LK-colombo-galleface by Balou46 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

1) Basnayaka, H., 2002. Role of open space in cities: Renewal of the Galle Face Green. SLIA JOURNAL VOL. 103-NO. 04. pp.26-29.
2) CCCDP, 2019. Colombo Commercial City Development Plan – 2019-2030, Volume I. Ministry of Megapolis & Western Development Urban Development Authority Sri Lanka. pp.58-59,142.
3) Cornelissen, C. and Weinrich, A. eds., 2020. Writing the Great War: The Historiography of World War I from 1918 to the Present. Berghahn Books. p.117.
4) Jackson, A. ed., 2017. The British Empire and the First World War. Taylor & Francis. p.3.
5) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. p.44.

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This page was last updated on 3 July 2023

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