Portuguese Town Plan and Architectural Specialties Therein – Galle Heritage

Portuguese Town Plan and Architectural Specialties Therein

Although Galle fort was a construction intended for war and security purposes, they took steps to design the town to suit their residential requirements.

Rubeiro, describing the war between Portuguese and king Rajasingh at (1581 – 92 AD) and Portuguese notes that Galle fort and town during that period had been under the king.

Rampart constructed according to the original plan upon the orders of Mathies Albar Kew Kew consists of 04 watch towers. A wooden fence is shown as a main security gate at the entrance to the fort town. Fort was protected by that boundary wall and an outwork with six cannon stations had been planned to assure protection from seaside. Construction of the main fort had been suggested to be within the protection wall and was named FORTALIZA.

During the time building of fort was carried out by Asavedu in 1602 AD, Joris Spilburcheon arrived at Baticaloa with a group of Dutch men.

Developments of Galle are seen during the time Constantinu De Sar was the Governor. After developing the Galle fort, he sent a map of Galle fort to the king of Portugal together with a detailed account of Galle fort. Rampart consisted of 6 watch towers; each watch tower was equipped with 08 cannons to prevent enemies approaching from land. At each of those stations there was a force of 50 Kasadoes. This place is rocky; width of the wall was 10 spans. Two large warehouses with sufficient storage space to hold foodstuffs and gunpowder are situated there.

In the map made by Constanteenu De Sar, small fortress constructed upon Kodigala watch tower to ensure protection from the seaside can be identified. In addition, the official residence of the captain and the well are presented by a plan.  That official residence appears to have situated within the section referred to as Fortliza in Constanteenu De Sar’s map. The map does not show buildings within fort but shows four streets in the town. According to the description of Constanteenu De Sar, existence of warehouses and other buildings within fort are signified.

Deputy Inspector General’s official residence and office are situated in the old section constructed by Portuguese known as Kalu Kotuwa. In a study of Portuguese Kalu Kotuwa, the map prepared during the tenure of office of Goa viceroy Anthonio Bocaro. It shows the rampart with 04 peaks. One watch tower is built on a natural rock behind the fortress to ensure protection from seaside as Gall fort is situated on a peninsula. That single tower is now known as Kodigala Tower. Construction of a long protection outwork had been proposed in the original plan but the construction work did not take place. Clusters of buildings within fort at that time shown are a special feature in that plan.

Coconut lands in the outskirts of Galle fort, constructions in Pettigalawatta and Magalle are clearly shown in the map of fort prepared by Pedro Bereto Resende in 1646 AD. Houses with thatched roofs appearing on Roomassala hillocks are identified ad dwellings of natives. Scenes of fishermen fishing at the strip of land adjoining the front section of fortress proved the existence of the fish market even during those days. Several sets of buildings are shown inside fort and the development of the town occurred during a short period of time can be identified. Artifices of contemporary architecture can be studied by examining the pattern of buildings shown in this map. It appears that there had been an internal network of streets to have access to every set of buildings within fort.Those streets connect to the two watch towers on the rampart and are designed to provide exit through the main tower near the harbour. “Kalu Kotuwa” which was then known as Fortleza had been constructed as a small fort and the security tower near Kodigala was constructed as a minor fortress. Among the groups of buildings in the fort, five churches are shown. After 1540AD Portuguese missionaries came to Ceylon to spread Missionary religion. During those days also churches were built in Galle.

Two churches were in existence at the time the construction of Galle rampart was commenced after 1589 AD. Those churches are identified as Fr(an)co Domingo and Pedro Miscricodia in Resendo’s maps. Similarly, 04 special groups of buildings are show. Among those are Portada Trisao towards the land, Porta da Muri to the east and Fortaleza and a workshop named Feitera to the west. Protective outworks made during Portuguese era were not subject to major changes concurrent with the town development but alterations are noted in the town plans inside fortress. Three main outworks on the rampart were known as St. Lugo, St Concesia and St Antonio.Gradual development in the town environment within fortress can be seen during Portuguese time.  Plan kept on expanding as groups of buildings and the town within the fortress and a simple street network was set up therein as required for the town.

Expansion of protecting outwork of Galle fortare clearly shown on the original plan of 1589 AD and also according to old plans of Galle fortpertaining to periods 1610, 1635 and 1645 AD. During that period, Portuguese were compelled to strengthen the rampart on the land side to face the inversions occurred from the kings Wimaladharmasooriya – I (1592 – 1604 AD), Senarath (1605- 1635 AD) and Rajasinghe –II (1635-1687 AD) and on the seaside to face the Dutch and Danish forces, the fort was reinforced on the seaside.

In the map prepared by Antonio Bocario 1635 AD, buildings outside and within are shown in addition to protecting outworks. Irrespective of whether those olden day maps were to scale or not, in a comparison of them, similarities are seen. According to Antonio Bocario, 06 large groups of buildings and 03 small buildings can be identified in the decade 1630 AD within fort. Kalukotuwa is named the main construction therein. Main rampart with three peaks, Kalu Kotuwa with the small wall and the watch tower upon the natural rock near it can be noted as measures of protection.

In the map presented by Pedro Bereto De Resendo in 1646 AD, three further groups were added to those existing buildings. At the time Portuguese commenced on developing Galle fort area, 02 churches can be identified according to the original plan and the number of churches had been increased to 05 by Resendo’s time.

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