Sri Lanka - Travel Destinations

Sri Lanka : Colombo

Sri Lanka : Colombo

About Colombo

Colombo city is a mix of the old and the new and offers an interesting blend of the occident and the orient.  Situated on the West coast of the Island it has a resident population of nearly 1 million and a floating population of over 500,000.  Modern high rise buildings and stately colonial edifices exist side by side together with luxurious 5 star hotels and sprawling street markets. It is a multiethnic and multireligious city. The city has diverse entertainment and recreational facilities. Colombo is a relatively cheap city to holiday in with plenty of budget hotels in Sri Lanka located within the city. The city has a tropical climate and the temperature averages around 30C. Colombo has plenty of variety to offer those who are planning a Sri Lanka Holiday. To Discover Sri Lanka fully contact your reliable tour agent in Sri Lanka and ensure that you get one of the best available tour packages in Sri Lanka

Wolvendaal Church

The Wolvendaal Church in Colombo was built by the Dutch in 1749 and derives its name from the name given to the area by the Dutch who mistook the jackals frequenting the neighborhood for wolves and called the area Wolvendaal or Wolf’s Dale. It is considered the premier Dutch colonial era building in the island and is well known for its ornate exquisite woodwork. The walls of the church are 1.5m thick and the remains of 5 Dutch Governors are interred beneath the stone floor of the church. Plan your Lanka Tour.

Portuguese Era

The city of Colombo was founded by the Portuguese who arrived in Colombo in 1505. The name “Colombo” was first used by the Portuguese and continues to this day. In 1518 they built a Fort in Colombo. This was dismantled in 1524 after a Sinhalese onslaught. In November 1554 the Portuguese built a second Fort which was stronger and bigger, and this date is regarded by some as the date of birth of the city of Colombo. Although the Fort no longer exists, the area is referred to as the Fort even today.   Surprisingly there are no buildings or monuments surviving from this era.

Dutch Era

The Dutch captured Colombo from the Portuguese in 1656. Some buildings from the Dutch era are still found in the city of Colombo. The former Dutch hospital is the oldest building in the Fort. Dating back to 1681 it has been put to several different uses. The building has been converted into a modern shopping complex while retaining its 17th century colonial architecture. The Colombo Dutch Museum  located on Prince Street, Pettah  is housed in the 17th century Old Dutch house which was the residence of Governor Count August van Ranzow.   The building reflects the typical architecture of a colonial Dutch urban residence. President’s House in the Fort is the former residence of the last Dutch governor of the island.  Splendid Old Dutch buildings are also found in the Hulftsdorp Courts complex.  

The Dutch built several canals in the city. The San Sebastian canal was the most important. An extensive network of Feeder canals brought cargo to the main San Sebastian canal to be transported to the water front. The network of canals built by the Dutch is still extant but not used to its full potential. Steps are now being taken to rehabilitate and develop the canal network. Enjoy a budget tour package in Sri Lanka.

British Era

Colombo was captured by the British in 1796. Many buildings were constructed. British era buildings and monuments still extant in Colombo include: the neo-classical Old Parliament building; the Victorian era Presidents House ;  19th century Department store building of Cargill’s ;19th century clock tower in the Fort - originally a lighthouse as well. The National Museum building 1877 ;  General Post Office building ; The Neo – Gothic Old Town Hall building in the Pettah 1873.  The present Town Hall building was built in 1927 incorporating British and Roman architectural design. Contact tour agent in Sri Lanka for tour packages in Sri Lanka

Colombo Harbor

Because of its strategic location on the East- West sea trade route the large and once natural harbor of Colombo was visited by ancient traders since 2000 years ago. Much of the external trade between ancient Sri Lanka and the outside world was conducted through the Colombo natural harbor. Today it has become one of the biggest man made harbors in the world and is the busiest and largest harbor in South Asia. The Port has undergone rapid modernization and now ranks among the top 35 Ports in the world. Around 31 million Tons of cargo is handled annually. Take a holiday in Sri Lanka.

Colombo Fort

 The Colombo Fort is the central business and financial district of the city. It is also the location of many luxury 5 starhotels in Sri Lanka.  Important landmarks include the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, President’s House, the old clock tower at the corner of Chatham Street,  the famous Cargill’s & Millers red brick British colonial style building, The old Dutch Hospital now converted to a modern shopping and restaurant complex and a number of official colonial buildings dating back to the British era. From the Fort Railway station regular long distance trains leave daily to distant parts of the island. Out of the different available tour packages in Sri Lanka choose what is best for you by contacting your reliable tour agent in Sri Lanka.

Museums & Art collections

The Colombo National Museum built in 1877 exhibits many priceless artifacts from Sri Lanka’s historical and cultural past. National Museum of Natural History reveals the natural heritage of the island. Sri Lanka Air Force Museum is dedicated to the field of aviation. Dutch Era Museum displays facets of life and culture during the Dutch era.

Adjoining the National Museum is the National Art Gallery comprising three wings. The main gallery exhibits a permanent collection of paintings. Other art galleries in the city include: Barefoot Gallery; Sapumal Foundation; Hempel Gallery ; Sasika Fernando Gallery; Paradise Road Gallery Café ;Kala Pola (Art Fair).  If you are planning a Sri Lanka holiday make sure you visit these museums and theatres during the course of your Sri Lanka tour. Plan your wedding and honeymoon in Sri Lanka.

Dutch and British era buildings

Only a few Dutch era buildings are extant today in the city of Colombo. These are mentioned elsewhere in this write up (see under the Dutch Era). Many old buildings dating back to the British era are also found in Colombo. Some of these are also mentioned elsewhere in this write up (see under the British Era).  In addition to what has been mentioned elsewhere, a number of other buildings incorporating British colonial architecture are found in the city. Among them are the following: Republic Building; General Treasury Building; Prime Minister’s Office ; Central Telegraph Office; Section of the University of Colombo; Grand Oriental Hotel building; Galle Face Hotel; Temple Trees and Mumtaz Mahal.

Gangarama Temple

The Gangaramaya Temple complex is situated in and around the City’s Beira Lake. There is a beautiful Buddhist shrine in the center of the lake which is a popular tourist attraction. The annual Gangarama Navam Maha Perahera (  Great Pageant) featuring many elephants, drummers, dancers and various cultural troupes is held in the month of February (Navam) and is a well known tourist attraction in the heart of the city.

Colombo Galle Face

The Galle Face Green is a promenade about half a kilometer in length lying outside the Fort area in Colombo and alongside the Indian Ocean. It was built in 1859 by the British Governor Sir Henry Ward. It is the largest open space in the heart of the city and is about 5 hectares in extent. It is a popular recreational site for city residents and patronized by all classes. Overlooking the Green is the Galle Face Hotel, one of the premier hotels in Sri Lanka.


Immediately outside the Fort to the East lies Pettah. Pettah is a maze of criss crossing streets and alleyways cramped with shops, businesses, markets of varying description and some of the cheapest hotels & hostels in Sri Lanka. A highly congested area it is a paradise for bargain hunters. It also has the colorful Hindu Kathiresan temple on Sea Street, and two very important Muslim mosques, the Grand Mosque on New Moor street and the Jami Ul Alfar Mosque on Bankshall street. Buses ply to every corner of the island from the Central Bus Stand in the Pettah. Contact your reliable tour agent in Sri Lanka for very attractive budget tour packages in Sri Lanka.

Moratuwa area

Moratuwa is a large coastal suburb 18 km South of Colombo. On the Eastern flank of Moratuwa is the Bolgoda Lake well known for water sports and bird watching and reputed to be the largest natural lake in Sri Lanka. Moratuwa is also famous for its furniture industry and the Moratuwa University where Dr. Arthur.C.Clarke, CBE was at one time the Chancellor. Bolgoda lake resort and its environs with some of the best budget hotels in Sri Lanka catering to their needs are very popular forweddings and honeymoon couples in Sri Lanka.

The Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Pond) Theatre

The Nelum Pokuna ( Lotus Pond) Theatre considered a modern architectural masterpiece is an ultra modern state of the art theatre catering to macro theatrical performances. It has a main auditorium and an open air amphitheater. Its structural design was inspired by the Lotus Pond found in Pollonnaruwa, the medieval capital of Sri Lanka. The performing arts have held a unique place in the history and culture of Sri Lanka for over 2000 years. Discover Sri Lanka’s multifaceted culture by planning your holiday in Sri Lanka with your reliable tour agent in Sri Lanka.

Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya

Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya lies to the North –East of the city of Colombo and is famous for its fascinating murals. It is one of the three places in Sri Lanka supposedly visited by Lord Buddha during his lifetime and dates back to the time of ancient Buddhist civilization in Sri Lanka. The annual festival is celebrated in the month of January with the conducting of the Kelaniya Duruthu Maha Perahera ( Great Pageant) with the usual participation of elephants, drummers, dancers etc. It is a popular tourist attraction. Enjoy your tour in Sri Lanka

The Historical Cargill’s & Millers Building Colombo

The striking 19th century red brick building of the Cargill’s &  Millers department stores in the Fort which was established in 1844 by William Miller and David Cargill to cater to the British Plantation community in the island is another legacy of the British period. It is one of the oldest Department stores in the country. The General Guide Plan for the development of the Fort area provides protection for this and other colonial era buildings in the area. Plan your Sri Lanka Holiday.