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Galle was a seaport in ancient times, but rose to international prominence with the arrival of the Portuguese in the early 16th century. It was the Dutch, however, who encircled the town in the 17th century with stout, black ramparts and bastions named ‘Sun’, ‘Moon’ and ‘Star’. You can still stroll between them for sweeping views over the church towers and terracotta-tiled roofs of the old town, many of whose charming buildings nowadays harbour jewellery boutiques and expat-run heritage hotels, nestled under shady frangipani trees. Outside the walls, pole fishermen can be seen at work in the bay, whose shoreline was decimated by the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.
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