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The Galle Face Green

History

The Strip of Land at Galle Face was initially used by Dutch invaders to strategically position their cannons in line to fire at oncoming enemy forces around Fort. Some of these ancient cannons can still be seen along the paved front of Galle Face.

The Galle Face Green initially occupied a vast area of Land and in 1856 the then Governor of Ceylon, Sir Henry George Ward commissioned a strip of land on the green to be made into an esplanade where ladies and children could meander and take in the air.

This prime open land area in Colombo led to Galle Face Being used for many sports namely; horse racing, golf, cricket and rugby in the 1800’s but soon had to move to more private locations in Colombo as Galle Face became more and more crowded and they had to share the space with each other.

The very first Royal-Thomian Cricket encounter was played here in 1879 when Royal College was known as Colombo Academy. Colombo Academy defeated St. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia, winning by 56 runs.

The Galle Face green soon became a large open area frequented by more and more people on a regular basis.

Present Day

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The Galle Face Green is currently a 5 hectare stretch of land affronting the sea, bounded by the Galle road to the East, Port City project to the north and iconic Galle Face Hotel on the south.

In the mornings one can observe people engaging in exercise and joggers jogging along its paved areas while towards afternoon one can see picnickers and people coming for strolls even in the scorching sun. It is also not uncommon to spot lovers canoodling under their umbrellas.

The same crowd can also be found towards the evening and night when Galle Face Green comes alive with the addition of kite fliers, young folk, families and vendors of food and toys.

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If you have developed a stomach fit for the delectable treats offered by local vendors, then you will be delighted at the goodies on offer from the stalls and lamp lit carts. The Nana’s food stall and its many almost identical copies which sprang up after the death of the original name bearer offer a wide variety of food from custom kotthu mixes to rice dishes and all types of fried sea food.

The famous ‘issowadey’ which is a prawn fritter where a few prawns are baked into a lentil and flour fritter while the other variety where ground up prawn is infused into the fritter itself is also available along with an assortment of fried nuts from the carts.

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Kites and other amusing colourful and noisy toys can be bought off toy vendors and can be high fun for children and adults alike.

Galle Face Green is the largest open space in Colombo and gives you a sense of colonial era styling with post-colonial vendors and modern architecture overlooking it. Due to the high volume of visitors Galle Face does not appear green and the grass is very patchy which is to be expected. This does not affect its popularity. For some it may be an acquired taste but if you are into experiencing local flavour it is definitely a place to go to.