Dutch Town Plan and Architectural Features of Galle Fort

Although Portuguese took pains to commence development of Galle fort providing it with their basic requirements, it was Dutch who developed Galle fort as a planned town to the satisfaction of the town dwellers. Having taken Galle under vtheir power in 1640 AD, Galle was maintained as the main center of administration until the other fortresses in Ceylon were acquired from Portuguese. When Galle fort changed hands from Portuguese on 13th March, 1640 AD, most of the Portuguese were said to have been deported to Batavia. Dutch imported men from African countries and from other countries including Kerala and Malaysia for their use. Slaves had been a major category of merchandise for East India Company.  During latter part of 16th century, more than 1000 black men were engaged in construction and maintenance of rampart and an increase of their daily quota of alcohol by 10 drams is on record. Four Governors, namely William Jacobz Coster (1640 AD) Jan Thijssen Payart ( 1640-46 AD) Joan Maetsuyeker( 1646 – 50 AD) Jacob van Kittensteyn (1650 – 53 AD)  ruled from Galle as their center of administration. Their official residences were situated where the new Fort Gate is built and those were the buildings constructed and used by Portuguese.

In the map prepared by Adrian de Leu in 1659 AD, by order of Adriaan Vander Meidan(1653-60 AD ) and the High Commissioner Rijckloff van Goens ( 1660 – 63 AD ) Can be introduced as the oldest map of Galle fort  made by Dutch. Adriaan Vander Meidan(1653-60 AD ) was the first Dutch ruler appointed to Colombo administration Center. He held the office of Governor of Ceylon during the period from  1653 AD to 1660 AD. This map is the oldest Dutch map showing the rampart constructed by Portuguese and the town. This map was made in May 1659 AD.

Portuguese rampart was not completely destroyed in the war launched by Willem Jacobz Coster (1640) in conquering Galle fort. In the 1659 AD map of Adriaan van Der Maiden ( 1653 – 60 AD) the rampart consisted of three watch towers is clearly depicted  on a straight line and the standings of those towers named “ Sun”, “Moon” and “Star” in their original form by the time 1659 AD can be clearly seen therein. “Kalu Kotuwa” or the “Black Fort” in highlighted as the main zone of governance. Few buildings inside and outside Galle fort are shown in the map, out of those the three warehouses are specific. By that time it appears not only part of the construction of main warehouse in Galle fort had been completed.

Among many buildings shown in the map, those strong front gables similar to European architectural features of 16th and 17th centuries call special concern. It appears that the jetties for loading and unloading cargo in the Galle harbor had not been constructed until then. Governor Adriaan van Der Maiden (1653 – 60 AD)   proposed some special components for development of Galle fort. It was proposed to divide fort through a new construction connecting Ackersloot  tower to precincts to Commander’s residence and from there to reach the present Vis M ark tower. Although the structural alteration did not take place the same way the Governor intended, later it can be identified as a segregation that served as a material segregation.

Information concerning the way how the town had been planned up to 1659 AD also can be studied in this map. Land inside fort separated to different parts by the network of streets. Protection for Eastern boundary from Ackersloot tower to Sun tower is provided by natural rifles. Only one watch tower had been constructed for protection of that area upon the place known as Kodigala where Netherland Flag was hoisted.

The next map among the old Dutch maps is a multi coloured map made by Johannas Wing Boons during 1665 – 70 AD. Due to more information presented and use of colours  information that can be gathered from this map is significant.

By that time the rampart of the fort had been developed to some extent strengthening Ackolsloot tower and protection there was improved by stationing some canoes .  Official residence of Chief harbor captain was situated there while the cannons placed there were used to communicate with harbor bound ships. An outwork was constructed later to provide protection to the official residence of Chief harbor captain.This watch tower was named  Ackolsloot in commemoration of the birthplace of Willem Jacobz Coster in Netherland.The development of the rampart from Kalu Kotuwa to Everlose tower  at that time can be identified. Everlose tower seems to have been constructed later than the period of Governor Adriaan van Der Maiden (1653 – 60 AD).   Ever lose tower is shown as New Point in Dutch maps and construction of this area had taken place during mid 17th century. Portuguese had got from natural stone ridges from Kalu Kotuwa to Ackolsloot and from there to Aelose tower.

Since Kodigala area was used by Portuguese as a central security zone, the same facility by Dutch as a Central signal monitor for the ships at sea to locate   Galle. It appears that the Dutch attempted to develop protecting walls in accordance to the identified terrain . Instead of developing the rampart evenly watch towers were built at selected places along the boundary of the land and the last constructed point of the rampart was built to interlink that tower. Most towers were mounted on natural rock. In some maps, Clipenburg tower is marked as New Work.

Streets inside the fort presently known as Hospital street, Lighthouse street, Pedlar street , Leyn Baan street and Church street appear to be in situ even during the early periods of 17th century. There had been another street inside the fort running parallel to the wall presently called Rampart street which is shown in the maps of olden days but not identified in the later maps. In the maps of olden days, the additional street stretching parallel to Pedlar street starting from Clipenburg tower and connecting up to Lighthouse street and another street starting from Kodigala tower and ran across Pedlar street towards Star tower can be identified  but later on , with the construction of groups of buildings those streets were abandoned.

This is a significant example to show that the original owners of Galle town plan were Portuguese. Galle fort was built on two layers and there had been a distinct building on the lower layer. Upon the top layer, on either side of the wall there were two rows of buildings.

Those buildings shown as blacksmith’s workshops in the old maps may have been used to make war weaponry. Dutch hospital, official residence of the doctor and the residence of the officer in charge of workshops are shown separately in old maps.

Groups of buildings were constructed alongside every street with the narrow front of the buildings facing the street.  Buildings were constructed facing many of the main streets and the basic influence of those buildings had the style of structure introduced by Portuguese in 17th century. Open spaces within fort shown separately and clearly in the map. Similarly, open spaces are left behind every building within the group of buildings. It is evident that Dutch had been maintaining the areas where old buildings were demolished as open spaces without constructing new building at those sizes. For instance, The space where the old church at church street had been, was maintained as an open space following its destruction until end of the 18th century. After the destruction of the governor’s official residence constructed during Dutch era, that space was kept as an open space without any constructions therein.

Certain areas which hindered geographical development of fort were left alone as open spaces. Particularly the areas adjacent the towers Elus, klipenburg and triton were marshy could not be developed.

Besides certain areas were left for common use although could be developed. Wide space around warehouse, Dutch hospital, Ackers loot was used for a bazaar and a common market. That expense was open to beach between Kalu kotuwa and Ackers loot tower when jettier were not  built for loading and unloading merchandise near warehouse that operation was carried out using lever systems installed in that open space .

As a result of that activity that open space was used for trading purposed. Although the beach zone facing the warehouse was not developed as a harbor and no Jettier were constructed there during early stages maps several that the Jetty was built for handling cargo towards the latter part of 17th century. Toosy’s map depicts all those buildings that were in existence by that time. Among the constructions at that time in Galle Fort, buildings, Privet residences, religious buildings owned by Dutch East India Company and those erected for protection strategy were distinctive. More specific were the hospital, Governor’s official residence, Kafeer church and warehouse of the company. The moat excavated joining the strips of sea either side separating the   fortress from mainland during latter part of 17th century was used to provide protection from enemy attacks from  there land and in 1669 also to connect the internal channel from Wakwella to Mahamodara and from Mahamodara to Galle harbor. It is said that men who were brought from Malabar were engaged in construction of this channel.

In map by J.C. Toozy in June 1698 AD, following a visit of Governor Gerrit de Heere (1697-1702) depicting the situation of Galle fort then is a very distinctive document. The especially of this map is that it shows the ground plans of several important buildings within the fort to accurate scale. A study of that plan shows that all construction works of Galle rampart had been completed by end June 1698AD.

Stretch of land between Kalu Kotuwa which was used for harbor operations and also as a common market and Acker tool tower, several constructions had been commenced by that time. Church street, Pedlar street, Light house street, hospital street, Leyn Baan street,( De Zeburg straar, De moor straat, De niew leinbaan straat, De Over leijnbaan straat, De chiando straat, De Parawa straat) can be identified as main streets in fort during that period.

The main jetty facing the entrance to fort had been constructed during that period. The area surrounding jetty was developed as the workshop promises for repairing vessels. Showing important buildings including Dutch hospital, warehouse building and the residence of commanded-in-chief in detail is an especially of this map. The plan for the development of the town can be clearly studied by perusing this map. According to the town plan, it is evident that the residential buildings were centered within the fortress and the land adjoining rampart had not been used for residential facilities. Moat from Moon tower up to Sun tower only remained unattended at that time.

Several books based on experiences of the working life of Francis Valentine from 1684AD were published in 1724AD and 1726AD. A map of Galle fort is also included in his book published in 1726AD. In 1733AD, Johann wolfing Heydt joined company as an Architect in 1733AD. He recessed the plans of Dutch fortress in existence at the time he was in device in Ceylon. In a study of the designs of Dutch town planning of Galle Fort the ground plan of Galle fort made by him is of paramount importance. His pictorial presentation of streets, locations of buildings and scenes of the environment inside Galle Fort from different angles of view points reveal comprehensive information concerning the town plan prevailed then.

Johann Wolfgang Heydt in his map depicts the development of Galle town in it’s entirely as at 1733AD. Locations of groups of buildings are shown as those were separated by streets. In this map, 14 groups of buildings separated by streets are clearly shown. Construction of buildings either side of Parawa Street and Chando Street also by then can be identified. That area which had been unsuitable for development until that time appears to have been developed due to construction of residences therein. According to information furnished by Johann Wolfgang Heydt people developing to different nationalities lived on Galle Fort. It contained a mixed population of Costizos, Mestizos Moor, Malabar, Sinhalese and Chetties.

Heydt stated that there were many buildings made using clay alongside the beach adjacent to   Galle Fort. In explaining the situation he says that those buildings belonged to Sinhalese and as they lived near jungles they lived in houses near the jungle areas in Galle. Heydt stated that there were many coconut gardens inside Galle Fort and notes how wine was brewed using those coconuts. In his annotation reproduced below reflects a detailed   picture of Dutch buildings in Galle Fort.

All groups of buildings are shown in our map. The owners of those house lived with their servants in those houses. Some of those houses were owned by reputed persons. Voluble buildings owned by the company and construction sites on the rampart are identified with symbolized characters. There had been only one gateway to enter the fort. It was difficult to come to that gate from the far and of the fort. Fancily of procuring pure water from within was meager. There was a pure water fountain in the coconut shades adjoining harbor. Water had been brought in to the fort for coking and drinking purposes from there. The water available within the fort was sufficient for cleaning purposes. Resident population inside fort was living happily. An army of around 200-250 soldiers were stationed inside the fort to provide security. Administration of fort was taken care of by a captain   at the beginning and then by an overseer and later by an administrator. Above them was a chief commander with full authority. Those other officers were required to report all matters to that chief commander daily. During my period Her De long was assigned with that duty. He was the Disave of Colombo area earlier

Houses of prominent persons in the company holding responsible positions are described in the map made be Johann Wolfgang Heydt. Those houses can be identified in the there groups of buildings situated on the middle street in Galle Fort. It can be observed that in planning the town, Dutch paid protected by main 03 watch towers .Among the Dutch maps, a special place is held by the map prepared by French engineer Rimar in 1790AD. Road system outside fort had been apparently developed due to expansion of horbour activities. While many streets were organized and developed for transportation of goods to Galle from inland areas arrangements were made to connect all water ways from interior areas to the excavated channel so that goods can be transported in cannels and barges.

By this time, Dutch rules wanted to develop Galle as a harbor providing necessary infrastructural he facilities within Galle town and ensure strategic security. The need to further strengthen the security of Galle town arose due to political influences such as Britain and France became powerful in international trading particularly after 1780AD, efforts by Kandian Kingdom to establish relationship with British Government and attempts by French to acquire Trincomalee fortress. The leader of the development project was chief Engineer Rimar.

According to his plan, a program to construct a wall from Triton tower through the natural ridge extending to Ackers loot  via Aligala in the east was launched by Dutch. Although Rimer proposed those constructions in the plans near the years 1787AD also similar tactics proposed can be identified.

According to this plan it appears that the intention was to reshape and widen the rampart combining some watch towers around the rampart. Further the plan proposed to widen the towers. Sun, moon and star adjoining land to extend further to interior.

Dutch have considered strengthening the protection boundary wall of Gall fort and expand the land area within fort from the seaside. Accordingly it was planned to expand the 03 towers facing land further towers the land and develop the Sun tower as the main entrance tower to the fort. Similarly it was proposed to combine Elus and Clipenberg towers and develop as a main tower. It appears that there was a plan to erect a new parapet wall from Clipenberg tower to Aurora tower using rocks to the south of fort and reclaim the land at that area by filling earth and develop the Southern half of that area as main dockyard for the harbor. Developing the coastal area adjoining warehouse building and some other selected areas as green belts is a special feather in this town development plan. Included in the plan are the extensions of old road system up to new land area in the south and introducing some streets afresh. Towards the latter part of Dutch governance the need to change Galle town plan was felt by them in which the engineer Rimer took the lead. Rimer paid more attention to ensure the strength of watch towers on the front face of rampart. The need for developing the three main towers of the fort forming several walls arose according to the plan. It was also suggested to develop sun tower, warehouse building,  and the new watch tower, to construct a new jetty accordingly for harbor operations and also to a new jetty between star tower and Elus tower after developing Elus tower.

Among the plans presented by Dutch to develop Galle fort, it appears that more attention had been paid for alterations of Galle fort only after 1770AD. However, despite having capture Galle fort from Portuguese in 1640AD, it is evident that Dutch had accomplished various development activities up to 1796AD.

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