Galle Face Green

The famous beach facing open space between the old Colonial Ceylon Parliament building now used as the Presidential Secretariat Building and the elegant colonial Colombo Galle Face Hotel is known as Galle Face was previously a marsh. The British Governor of Colonial Ceylon, Sir Henry Ward, authorised the land to be turned into a green usable open space in 1856. He wanted to introduce some of the pleasures he and his staff enjoyed back in Britain, designing was undertaken under his leadership by the British in 1859 and the green was primarily used as a sea front promenade which was constructed to enable the wealthy to exercise their horses and take in the sea air while playing polo and golf clad in long Victorian styled attire.

galle-faceNow it is a truly Sri Lankan playground. At the weekend and especially at dusk, the green is filled with kite fliers, picnic eaters, day-trippers and lovers. Galle Face Green gives the foreigner a glimpse of the private and family side of Sri Lankan life. The open green space of Galle Face is about 1/2 km long. Depending on what time of the year it is the green space can seem more brown and dusty caused by the lack of rain. It is the biggest open public space in the congested capital city. It is busy every day of the week but it is very popular at the weekends when more office workers can come out with their families to enjoy the outdoors. It is also a favourite venue for courting couple on a date. They can walk hand in hand along the promenade or try to find a bit of privacy on the beach to kiss.

There are many brightly coloured food stalls along the promenade. Cold drinks, ice cream and cut up fruit vendors are very numerous. Look out for a Galle Face Green speciality, the prawn Wades known as Isso Wade. There are many different types of take away curries available to buy. To keep costs down many family groups bring their own food and set up picnics on the grass. Because of the constant breeze coming in from the Indian Ocean kite flying is a popular sport. If you are on holiday with children, buy a cheap kite from one of the many stalls and see how high you can fly your kite.