Galle, Sri Lanka

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Short description

In Galle, the research examined the strategies related to the policies and management of sustainable development of the heritage site and the question of development without damaging the Outstanding Universal Value. By focusing on the official UNESCO documents and complementing this result with an illustrative case, different dimensions of the cultural significance of the historic centre have been revealed and assessed.


99,478 (2011)

Land area

16,2 km²

Key challenges

Problems mentioned in the research: the difficulty for stakeholders concerned with policies and management within the fort to remove existing unauthorized building activity; inadequate sewage and solid waste management; noise pollution and fumes caused by increasing traffic and inadequate vehicle management within the fort; overhead wires, cables, TV antennae and water tanks marring the roof-scapes of the fort;  closing-in of verandas for domestic security reasons, altering the street-scapes; “unauthorized change of use” of houses (UNESCO, 2003).

According to State of Conservation reports: Illegal constructions; potential threat of a marine transport infrastructure on the integrity of the WHS; Need for development and management plan



Heritage Protection

National and Local regulation

Main Partners

Eindhoven University of Technology

UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Main activities

[1988] Old town of Galle and its fortifications have been inscribed in the World Heritage List

[1997] The first report on the state of conservation was presented in the 21st session the WH committee concerning the factors; legal framework, management activities, öanagement systems/management plan

[2012] “Assessing the cultural significance of world heritage cities : the historic centre of Galle as case study” was published in Measuring Heritage Conservation Performance, as a part of the research program “Outstanding Universal Value, World Heritage cities and Sustainability: Surveying the relationship between the Outstanding Universal Value assessment practices and the sustainable development of World Heritage Cities”

[2013]  World Heritage Committee requested the state party to conduct a heritage impact assessment study for the Galle Port Development Project

Main resources

law-book1 Heritage Impact Assessment of the Galle Port Development Project on the World Heritage property of Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications (direct download)

settings Old Town of Galle and Its Fortifications WHS 

open-magazine Boxem, R. et al. (2012). Assessing the cultural significance of world heritage cities: the historic centre of Galle as a case study. Presented at 6th International Seminar on Urban Conservation, Recife, 2011. Olinda&Rome: CECI&ICCROM.


Robert Boxem

René Fuhren

Bernard Colenbrander

Ana Pereira Roders

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