Galle Face Green

Last updated

Galle Face Green
Colombo - Galle Face.jpg
Galle Face Green facing north
Galle Face Green
Type Urban park
Location Colombo in Sri Lanka
Area5.0 ha
Operated byUrban Development Authority of Sri Lanka
StatusOpen all year
The Galle Face Green runs next to the Indian Ocean Srilanka colombo galle face.jpg
The Galle Face Green runs next to the Indian Ocean
Shangri-La OneGalleFace hotel complex UG-LK Photowalk - OneGalleFace and surroundings - 2017-03-12 (13).jpg
Shangri-La OneGalleFace hotel complex

Galle Face is a 5 ha (12 acres) ocean-side urban park, which stretches for 500 m (1,600 ft) along the coast, in the heart of Colombo, the financial and business capital of Sri Lanka. The promenade was initially laid out in 1859 by Governor Sir Henry George Ward, although the original Galle Face Green extended over a much larger area than is seen today. The Galle Face Green was initially used for horse racing and as a golf course, but was also used for cricket, polo, football, tennis and rugby.



Galle Face Green originally extended over a much larger area than exists today. Records indicate that it was bounded to the north by Beira Lake, the ramparts of Colombo Fort and the city's cemetery (established in 1803), to the west by the Indian Ocean, whilst to the south by the Galle Face Hotel (established in 1864, although the original building on the site was a Dutch villa) and to the east by St Peter's Church (consecrated in 1821). The Galle Face Green was initially laid out by the Dutch as a means to enable their cannons a strategic line of fire against the Portuguese. One version of how the name Galle Face is derived, is that it is from the original Dutch name for the fortifications, in that the gateway which gave access to the Colombo Fort was called the Gal Gate, as it faced southwards to Galle and faas means front, so it literally means in front of the fortification that faced toward Galle. Another version is it is a corruption of the original name for the area's rocky shoreline, Gal Bokka, Gal being the Sinhalese for rock and that Gal Gate actually meant rock gate.

In 1856 the then Governor of British Ceylon, Sir Henry George Ward (1797–1860) authorised the construction of a 1 mile (1.6 km) promenade along the oceanside of the Galle Face Green, for ladies and children to saunter and ‘take in the air’. The promenade was subsequently completed in 1859.

Horse racing

Horse racing began in Galle Face in the early 1820s, during the time of the then British Governor Sir Edward Barnes (1776–1838). The esplanade in front of the fort, previously a marshy area, was filled with earth and levelled for the purpose. The race course was approximately one and a half miles long. The area became known as the Colpetty Race Course, and was used for horse races until 1893 when horse racing moved to the Colombo Racecourse. The Turf and Sporting Club was also founded in the early 1820s, [1] with the first officially recorded horse racing meet held on the Green in the 1821.

In order to view the races a pavilion was erected at the highest point of the green, it was circular in shape, with wooden framework and a thatched cadjan roof. As the years went by, the pavilion building was improved, with wooden walls replaced by bricks and made larger. A more spacious building, known as the ‘Race Bungalow’, was subsequently built on the same spot. In September 1870 a viewing gallery was added, which came to be called the ‘Grand Stand’. Later a two-storey grandstand was built for members. In 1871 the Race Bungalow became the venue for the Colombo Club and since then it was referred to as the Colombo Club building. This building still stands today, with all its colonial grandeur, and is now the Crystal Ballroom of Taj Samudra Hotel.


In 1879, a number of British expatriates introduced golf to Ceylon playing on the Galle Face Green. It was there that they inaugurated the Colombo Golf Club without a clubhouse or a proper golf course. The club had its first Annual General Meeting on 13 March 1880 at the Colombo Club. in 1896 Galle Face was becoming more and more crowded and the golf club faced with having to share the ground with numerous other sports and the general public moved to its present location in Borella.


On 30 June 1879 the first official rugby match in Ceylon was played at Galle Face Green between the newly formed Colombo Football Club and a rest of the world team. Rugby matches were then regularly played in the center of the Colpetty race track, an area shared with the golf club.


The first Royal–Thomian cricket match played between Royal College, Colombo (at that time called Colombo Academy) and S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia was played on 15–17 July 1879 at Galle Face Green, which is today the site of the Taj Samudra Hotel. It was said that the two teams had to row across the Beira Lake in boats to reach the Galle Face Grounds. Colombo Academy won the inaugural encounter by 56 runs.

Current use

The Galle Face Green is currently a 5 hectare ribbon strip of land between Galle Road and the Indian Ocean which is now the largest open space in Colombo. This is a popular destination for children, vendors, teenagers, lovers, kite flyers, merrymakers and all those who want to indulge in their favorite pastimes next to the sea under the open sky. On Saturday and Sunday evenings, the land is busy with day trippers, picnickers and food vendors selling cooked crabs and prawns, slices of mango with pepper and salt. [2] There are two large hotels that border the strip; the Ceylon Inter-Continental Hotel and at the other by the quaint Galle Face Hotel, one of Sri Lanka's oldest and most popular hotels, with a variety of old world charm including old furniture, hand carved doors, balconies and high ceilings. It is also used as the site for Sri Lanka's national day celebration held annually on 4 February.

People enjoy the beach at Galle Face beach, Sri Lanka. Galle Face beach.jpg
People enjoy the beach at Galle Face beach, Sri Lanka.

Radio Ceylon and subsequently the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, the oldest radio station in South Asia, has recorded many programs here from their outside broadcast input in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Galle Face Green is administered and maintained by the Urban Development Authority of Sri Lanka (UDA).

It hosted the world's tallest artificial Christmas tree on 25 December 2016.

Related Research Articles

Colombo Chief port of Sri Lanka

Colombo is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka by population. According to the Brookings Institution, Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752,993 in the city proper. It is the financial centre of the island and a tourist destination. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to the Greater Colombo area which includes Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of Sri Lanka and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. Colombo is often referred to as the capital since Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is within the urban area of, and a suburb of, Colombo. It is also the administrative capital of the Western Province and the district capital of Colombo District. Colombo is a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern life, colonial buildings and monuments.

Nuwara Eliya City in Central Province, Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya is a city in the hill country of the Central Province, Sri Lanka. Its name means "city on the plain " or "city of light". The city is the administrative capital of Nuwara Eliya District, with a picturesque landscape and temperate climate. It is at an altitude of 1,868 m (6,128 ft) and is considered to be the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka. The city is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is known for its temperate, cool climate – the coolest area in Sri Lanka.

The Royal–Thomian is an annual cricket match in Sri Lanka played between Royal College, Colombo and S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia since 1879. It is known as The Battle of the Blues due to the colours of the two school's flags i.e. blue, gold and blue of Royal College and blue, black and blue of S. Thomas' College.

Galle Face Hotel

The Galle Face Hotel, founded in 1864, is one of the oldest hotels east of Suez. It is located on Galle Road, Colombo. The Ceylon Hotels Corporation is now part of the Galle Face Hotel Group. The hotel is a member of Select Hotels and Resorts International. The current chairman of the hotel is Sanjeev Gardiner, since the demise of his father Cyril Gardiner in 1997. It is listed as one of the "1000 Places to See Before You Die" in the book of the same name. It received the "Best Heritage Hotel" title three years running at the Presidential Awards for Travel and Tourism, held in June 2010, June 2011 and September 2012. In addition it won the first-ever PATA award for Best International Heritage Hotel, in 2012. In September 2012, it became the first hotel in Sri Lanka to be featured on a postage stamp, along with three other iconic buildings in Colombo.

U.N. Gunasekera (1922–2008), was a Sri Lankan civil engineer. A construction magnate, he is considered to be one of the most prolific civil engineers of the 20th century in Sri Lanka. He revolutionized engineering in Sri Lanka through his construction of high-rise buildings, including Sri Lanka's first five-star hotel and its largest five-star hotel, among various other projects.

The Sri Lanka national rugby union team has yet to make their debut at the Rugby World Cup. They have the longest tradition of organised club rugby in Asia, dating back to 1879, which was just 8 years after the founding of the world's first rugby union in England. They regularly compete in the Asian Five Nations tournament and are currently in Division I. In the 2010 tournament, they made it to the finals beating Chinese Taipei 37 to 7.

Colombo Cricket Club Cricket club in Sri Lanka

The Colombo Cricket Club (CCC) is a first-class cricket club in Sri Lanka. It is the oldest in the country, having been formed in 1863, and is headquartered at 31 Maitland Crescent, Colombo 7, close to the headquarters of Sri Lanka Cricket.

Maha Nuge Gardens

Mahanuga Gardens is a private lane (street) located in the Kollupitiya district in the city of Colombo. Even though it is called a garden, nothing of any importance is grown here. The lane runs off the main Colombo highway called Galle Road, leading to the commercial district of Fort, via the Galle Face Green — a beautiful stretch of land by the sea. "Temple Trees", the official residence of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, is situated within walking distance of Mahanuga Gardens Gardens. The imposing Cinnamon Grand Colombo Hotel is adjacent to the properties.

Rugby union in Sri Lanka

Rugby union in Sri Lanka is mainly played at a semi-professional and recreational level. It is a popular team sport with a history dating back to 1879. In 2012, according to International Rugby Board figures, there were over 103,000 registered rugby union players in Sri Lanka, making it the second largest rugby-playing nation in Asia, behind Japan.

Fort (Colombo) Place in Sri Lanka

Fort (Colombo) is the central business district of Colombo in Sri Lanka. It is the financial district of Colombo and the location of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the World Trade Centre of Colombo from which the CSE operates. It is also the location of the Bank of Ceylon headquarters. Along the foreshore of the Fort area is the Galle Face Green Promenade, built in 1859 under the governance of Sir Henry George Ward, the Governor of Ceylon during British colonial era. Fort is also home to the General Post Office, hotels, government departments and offices.

Sri Lankan Parliament Building

The Sri Lankan Parliament Complex is a public building and landmark that houses the Parliament of Sri Lanka. Situated in Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the administrative capital, it is built on an island, surrounded by the Diyawanna Oya. It was designed by Deshamanya Geoffrey Bawa.

Royal Colombo Golf Club

The Royal Colombo Golf Club is the oldest golf club in Sri Lanka. Established in 1880, it is located in the capital city of Colombo at The Ridgeway Links also known as the Anderson Golf Course. It is home to the Sri Lanka Golf Union, the governing body of Golf in Sri Lanka and maintains links with The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in Scotland.

The Colombo Club is the second oldest gentlemen's club in Sri Lanka.

The Colombo Club Building, now known as the Grand Crystal Ballroom at the Taj Samudra Hotel, is one of the oldest buildings in Colombo. Dating back to the British colonial era it was built in the early 1860s as the grandstand for the Colpetty Race Course by Assembly Rooms Company Limited. In 1871 it was leased by the Colombo Club as its club house and underwent much refurbishments. The building boasted one of the finest ballrooms in the country.

Sport in Sri Lanka

Sport in Sri Lanka is a significant part of Sri Lankan culture. Although the Sports Ministry named volleyball the national sport, the most popular sport is Cricket. Rugby union is also popular. Other popular sports are water sports, badminton, athletics, football, basketball and tennis. Sri Lanka's schools and colleges regularly organize sports and athletics teams, competing on provincial and national levels.

The Colombo Swimming Club is a swimming club in Colombo, Sri Lanka, founded in 1938. It is one of the premier clubs in Sri Lanka.

Colombo Racecourse Sports venue in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo Racecourse was a harness racing course in the Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo. During the Second World War, it was used as a temporary airfield. In 2012 it was redeveloped as the Colombo Racecourse Sports Complex to become the first International Rugby Union ground in Sri Lanka to host all the national rugby union side's home matches.

Nuwara Eliya Racecourse

Nuwara Eliya Racecourse in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka is the only remaining horse racing venue in Sri Lanka. Situated 1,868 metres (6,129 ft) above sea level the race course is one of the highest in the world. The track has a circumference of 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) with a 333-metre straight.

Havelock Park Stadium

Havelock Park is a multi-purpose stadium in Havelock Town, Colombo Sri Lanka. It is one of the oldest grounds in the country. The sporting complex is located in Havelock Town and is bordered by Havelock Road, Park Road and Isipathana Mawatha.

Old Army Headquarters, Colombo

The Old Army Headquarters refers to the former military headquarters complex of the Sri Lanka Army. Situated next to Galle Face Green and Baladaksha Mawatha, the complex bordered the Beira Lake and had its main entrance at the Slave Island end of Baladaksha Mawatha, Colombo 3. The complex also included the Ministry of Defence buildings, located close to the Galle Face terminus of Baladaksha Mawatha. Apart from operational and administrative offices, it contained the centers of several regiments and corps of the Sri Lanka Army, as well as the Colombo Military Hospital and the army sports grounds.


  1. "The Courier". The Hobart Town Courier . Tas.: National Library of Australia. 19 September 1834. p. 2. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  2. "The photographs of Galle Face Green, September 2018". Independent Travellers. Retrieved 10 November 2018.

Further reading

Coordinates: 6°55′36″N79°50′37″E / 6.92655°N 79.8435°E / 6.92655; 79.8435