Colombo Fort - A Celebration Of Colonial Architecture
All around downtown Colombo 1, in the Fort Area, there are stunning monumental buildings dating back to the Dutch and British era of Sri Lanka. Back then (Colombo was declared the capital of Ceylon in 1815 by the British) this area was a real fort as it was surrounded by the sea on two sides and had a moat on the landward sides.
Today the Fort area of Colombo is packed with stunning old colonial-era architecture masterpieces that have been restored with a mix of modern structures. The Old Dutch Hospital is a good example of this (no. 6 in this guide) and well worth a visit. Also, this area houses the President´s House and various ministry and governmental buildings.
This is a rather compact and small area, perfect for a stroll. Start or end your walk at the beautiful Old Galle Buck Lighthouse and enjoy the nice view of the Colombo shore and harbor.
Other highlights in the Fort area that you should not miss are:
- Old Galle Buck Lighthouse – The perfect place to start your Fort walk. Built in 1954, the lighthouse is surrounded by old cannons and has a beautiful view of the ocean and Colombo port. (located on Marine Drive)
- Sambodhi Chaitiya dagoba/ stupa – A bright white dagoba/ stupa just north of the Old Galle Buck Lighthouse. The dagoba is on 20 m tall legs so that sailors at the sea could see it. (located at Marine Drive)
- The Clock Tower – Originally a lighthouse built in 1857 (located in the junction of Chatham Street and Janadhipathi Mawatha Street)
- Central Point – Built in 1914, this used to be the old colonnaded Central Bank and is now the grandest renovated building in this area. The interior is marvelous, especially the impressive chandelier which is the tallest in the whole of Asia. The building also houses a museum of local money. (located at Chatham Street, Colombo 1, Free entrance)
- Lloyd´s Buildings – A stunning newly renovated building constructed in 1908, which is now owned by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. (located on Sir Baron Jayatilleke Mawatha, Colombo 1)
- St Peter´s Church – The oldest church in Colombo that is still in use, from 1821. (located on Church Street, just north of the Grand Oriental Hotel)
- Cargills Main Store – Dating back to 1906, this beautiful bright red building is a masterpiece. Unfortunately, the stunning building is quite empty, but there is a small Cargills convenience store inside where you can sit down and have something cool to drink.