|Colombo is an easy
city to travel around. Fort district, Sri Lanka's business and commercial areas is in the north of the city. You can find many shopping malls,
bookshops, airline offices here. Fort is also the sight of the Central
Bank, which the Tamil Tigers blew up in January 1996. There are
considerable sites including the clock tower, a former lighthouse, the
president's residence (known by traditionalists as Queen's House),
and colonial buildings, which lend the district an air of the
In the southern part of Fort is Galle Face Green, a seafront
expanse of green graced by cricket games, kite flyers and trysting
lovers while in the east is the Pettah bazaar
district. Visitors can walk through its where there are many different kinds of goods which include fruit, vegetables,
meat, gems, gold, silver, brass and tin junk.
This stone church built in 1749 is found on Wolvendaal Street. It is a relic of the Dutch period and worth seeing are the tombstones,
set into the floor, which were moved from a church the Fort in
1813. The dates on the tombs show how risky life could be for
the Dutch conquerors: even in
the times of peace, the death toll from disease
was high and many people died after only a short stay in Colombo.
Dutch Period Museum
Built during the 17th century as the residence of Count
August van Ranzow, the Dutch East India Company's governor
in Colombo, this old building at 95 Prince Street is one of the
few surviving remnants of Colombo's Dutch colonial heritage.
On the outskirts of Pettah, market stalls and
antique shops surround it. Its rather chaotic collection includes
weapons, coins, pottery, portraits and furniture from the period
of Dutch rule, and traces the descent of the dwindling 'Burgher'
community. Open Saturday to Thursday from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
National Museum and Puppetry and Children's
The National Museum was the country's first museum constructed in 1877. Located at Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha (also known as Albert Crescent), the museum's collection covers several
centuries and a variety of cultures, from the Sinhala
kingdoms through the British era.
Some of the most important
collections are the royal
trappings of the last Kings of Kandy.
There are also superb stone sculptures,
including Hindu bronzes and wooden carvings, Sri Lankan and European furniture
and ceramics, and a good variety of masks
reflecting Buddhist demons and deities.
There is a huge library at the museum with more than 500,000
books which is mainly of interest to scholars. Some of its collection
of 4,000 palm leaf manuscripts, created by etching the lettering
into the fibrous surface of the leaf, are on show. A small
gallery of mid-19th-century paintings
and etchings depicts Sri Lanka through the eyes
of British artists.
The Puppetry and Children's Museum is within the National Museum. Puppetry is a living part of the country's cultural
heritage, and the museum shows traditional Sri Lankan
figures and marionettes from all over
the world, with weekend performances. Open Saturday to Thursday from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
The Viharamahadevi Park
The Viharamahadevi Park is located next to the National
Museum. It is the National Art Gallery and the Natural History Museum, which
is the capital's largest, most elegant and attractive green space.
Famous for its flowering trees, fountains and water channels, the
Viharamahadevi Park overlooks the pristine white-domed Town
The park is at its best from March to May, before the monsoon
arrives, when its trees and shrubberies are in brilliant flower.
In the centre of the park a statue of Queen Victoria commemorates
her rule, while on the lawns near the Town Hall a golden image
of the Buddha represents an older heritage.
About 11 kilometres south of Fort, the zoo has a wide collection of fauna
from all over the world. The Mini Medura
or aquarium displays over 500 varieties of aquatic
life is the only one of its kind in Asia. A reptile house has
cobras, tortoises and crocodiles. There is a well-stocked Aviary,
a Nocturnal House and a Butterfly Park. The highlight is the elephant
show in the evening where the lumbering beasts perform for spectators.
Open Hours: 8.00 am to 6.00 pm.
The Cinnamon Gardens district, approximately
a block inland (east) from Calle Road, is now the city's university
and diplomatic quarter and its wealthiest residential area.
With its boulevards lined with jacaranda and frangipani trees,
it is in sharp contrast to the visible poverty of the Pettah area
to the north. The white-domed Town Hall, said
to have been modelled on the US White House, is a major