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Dutch Reformed Church, Galle, Sri Lanka

The church was founded in 1640 by the Dutch East India Company. However in its present shape it appeared in 1750-1752. The floor of the church is covered with granite tombstones, underneath which many Dutch noblemen lie. When looking closely to the tombstones a scary fact can be detected: most of the deceased are children who lived only one day or a month. The "oldest" person I saw there was just 58 years old. This can be explained by varios diseases that couldn't be cured at that time, or the revenge of the locals against the colonial rule.

In 1830 a stained glass was placed on the western wall, and in 1890 a shed was constructed to preserve it from leakage.

Reformed church was built with the donation of a Dutch officer as a thanksgiving for the birth of his long-expected daughter. People used to say many things about this church: for instance that there were many underpasses that led to important buildings of the city, including the governor's house.

In 2001 a restoration plan was devised, financed by the Dutch government. The local authorities had to invite a Dutch restoration architects to help preserve European style architecture of the church. Conservation specialist Harry Boerema was amongst them. During the renovation works special trainings were organized to restore the staining glass. A Dutch company supplied all the necessary materials for the renovation. Eight local specialists and three architects from Netherlands worked together on repairing the stained glass window.

There are still liturgies served in the Dutch Reformed Church on the first Sunday of every month. Every year a lot of Dutch people arrive here to visit the graves of their ancestors. A white piano is placed next to the preacher's pulpit, and a local musician plays "Ave Maria". It is charming! Along with three-century gravestones this music takes you back in time, and you can see women in their "multilayer" dresses and caps, and men in breeches with garters kneeling in prayer.

By Sona Gasparian,

Photos by Narek Bakhtamyan


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