Shopping in Galle

Like all tourist destinations, the Galle Fort has a lot of exciting things to offer its visitors. These go beyond simply providing them with world-class accommodations and convenient modes of travel. These also have to do with providing them with exciting bargains and shops that are sure to delight them.

Anyone who is familiar with Galle and Sri Lanka would know that the best things to shop for in this city are jewelry and gems. These are things that the country has an abundance of and for which it is well known.

There are several factors why Sri Lanka, as a country, is well known for the development of its gem and jewelry industry.  One factor is the natural wealth of its resources and the abundance of gems. Another is the existence of a group of dedicated artisans who made it their personal mission to continually develop their craft and hand it down to the next generation. These artisans had their owned caste, the Navandanno, made up of respected people whose traditions included the perpetuation of their art which, during the early times, enjoyed royal patronage and support.

The decline of the monarchy in the 18th century meant the loss of support for the jewelry industry which then suffered a decline in production and sales.  But this decline proved only temporary. With Galle as the country's major port, it wasn't long before the flood of passengers entering the port city started demanding more and more of the "Ceylon gem". In no time, the jewelry industry was back on its feet providing a good living to the inhabitants of the port.

The village of Magalle, a suburb of Galle, is significant to the gem and jewel industry because it was home to goldsmiths, lapidaries and jewelers. Tourists would leave their hotels at the fort to travel all the way to Magalle to check out the latest in fine jewelry and to maybe get a bargain on some of the beautiful gemstones. Semi-precious stones come at a bargain in this part of Galle and the artisans are able to make high-fashion jewelry that is at par with Bulgari and Cartier design-wise.

Several jewelry shops along Church Street offer very affordable fashion jewelry. Likewise, exciting bargains on gems can be found in jewelry shops located along Hospital or Rampart Street.

For tourists wanting to buy clothes or collectibles, Galle has an array of delightful shops certain to excite the most sophisticated traveler.  Local artistry and paintings are available along Pedlar Street which also has a gallery of traditional Sri Lankan carved and hand-painted collectibles and furniture.

For clothes and accessories, there is Mimimango at 40 Leyn Baan Street and Barefoot on the Fort on the corner of Church and Pedlar Streets. These shops sell jeans embroidered with all types of designs and little sparkling handbags as well as a range of clothing, handmade items, textiles, and other collectibles.

Lace and antiques are also products that Galle is known for. Stalls that sell lace are located along the main road while antiques are available along Leyn Baan Street at Antiques-Olanda and the Fort Historical Mansion.

There are more places to shop outside of the Galle Fort area. From these shops one can buy silk, batik, leather, spices and even more jewelry. Sri Lankan silk is available directly from the Gintota Silk Factory while oils can be distilled and bottled on site at the Koggala Ayurvedic Oils. Outside of the Fort area, Douglas and Sons offers the widest assortment of jewelry.