Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka & the biggest city. Elegant colonial buildings to the sprawling metropolis of the city, Colombo has a multitude of sights and sounds for you to experience. With all these spectacular sceneries, this wonderful city will never cease to amaze you. Visit amazing historical landmarks with captivating stories and learn the history behind one of the richest cultures in Asia. Embark in an adventure like never before and become a part of the city with this private tour of Colombo. Some people appreciate its colonial heritage. Full of modern buildings and busy bazaar too. There are plenty of cultural and historical attractions in areas such as Fort, Cinnamon Gardens and Pettah. Colombo is the political, economic and cultural centre in Sri Lanka.
Colombo is history can be trace back to at least 5th century, when it was a way station for sea trade between Asia and the West. Colombo had a small port. Until 1870 s Galle had been a largest port in the country. During the 8th century Arab traders settled near the port and in 1505 Portuguese arrived. By the mid-17th century Dutch had taken over, growing the cinnamon in the area now call as “Cinnamon Gardens” but it was not until the British arrived that the town became a city and in 1815 was proclaimed the capital of Ceylon in the 1870s the breakwaters were built and Fort was created by flooding surrounding wetlands. Colombo remained the capital until new parliament was built in 1982. Its population nearly 2millions and another millions of people used to come every day for different matters.
Colombo divided to 15 postal zones. Also, many more places to see. Colombo Lighthouse, The Prison Cell of the last Sri Lankan King, Lighthouse with Clock Tower designed by Lady Ward (built before the Big Ben in London), Galle Face Promenade with cannons of World War II, South Expansion of the Colombo Harbour, York Street with remnants of British Colonial Architecture, BMICH, the scenic Beira Lake in the heart of the city, The War Memorial, Public Library, National Museum, Nelum Pokuna Theatre, Gangarama Temple, Dawatagaha Mosque, Vihara Mahadevi Park, Colombo Town Hall, and many more historical and important landmarks and places that make an interesting tapestry of the life within the city limits of Colombo.
Originally a fort during the Portuguese and Dutch periods but now a major commercial center of the country and housing major offices, big hotels, some of the better shops, airline offices, banks, main post office, immigration office, travel agents and restaurants. Within Fort are several places of tourist interest, which can be conveniently seen on foot. During the European era Fort was indeed a fort, surrounded by the sea on two sides and a moat on the landward sides. Today it’s a curious mix of brash modern structures, such as the World Trade Center, and venerable red-brick institutions from the Colonial-era, such as Cargills and Millers. The security presence is heavy here, curtailing vehicle access and some pedestrian access. A good landmark in Fort is the clock tower at the junction of Chatham St and Janadhipathi Mawatha (once Queen St), which was originally a lighthouse.
Pettah Adjacent to Fort is Pettah-Colombo's leading Bazaar district. It has narrow cobbled streets lined with shops and street stalls that offer the most fantastic bargains and the most unimaginable range of goods varying from bright printed fabrics, suiting, undergarments, children wear, footwear and handbags to electrical goods, semi-precious jewellery, watches, rare first edition books, cutlery and other household items. Each cross-crossed lane of Pettah leads to the main street and each has developed its own specialized characteristic. For example, household goods are found on Keyzer Street. Prince Street is famous for glass, mirrors and electrical items. Malwatte Avenue sells English, Sinhala and Tamil music cassettes.
Wolfendhal church (Wolvendaal Kirk) The 1749 Wolvendaal Church is the most Wolfendhal church is important Dutch building in Sri Lanka. When the church was built, this area was a wilderness beyond the city walls. The Europeans mistook the packs of roaming jackals for wolves, and the area became known as Wolf’s Dale, or Wolvendaal in Dutch. The church is in the form of a Greek cross, with walls 1.5m thick, but the real treasure is its Dutch furniture this staunch work of Doric architecture holds elegantly carved ebony chairs, carved baptismal wooden font, canopied pulpit, crystal lamps & an illustrated Dutch Bible.
The Dutch governors had a special pew made with elegant carved ebony chairs, and the workmanship in the wooden pulpit, baptismal font and lectern is just as beautiful. The stone floor includes the elaborate tombstones of five Dutch governors.
National Museum Colombo’s National Museum is a must-see sight. Within its hallowed halls you’ll encounter all manner of art, carvings and statuary from Sri Lanka’s ancient past, as well as swords, guns and other paraphernalia from the colonial period. There are fascinating 19th-century reproductions of English paintings of Sri Lanka, and an excellent collection of antique demon masks. Look out for the magnificent royal throne made for King Wimaladharma in 1693. The museum, built in 1877, is located on the south side of Viharamahadevi Park.
The regal white edifice of the Sri Lanka National Museum set amidst a generously spread of property in the exclusive environs of Cinnamon Gardens. The sheer beauty of the building revealing shades of Italian architecture rarely fails to evoke a second glance. This beautiful structure can be traced back to 1877, when it was purposely built to house antiques. At that time this project was ably supported by the British Governor of Ceylon (as it was then known), Sir William Henry Gregory, Sri Lanka's oldest museum was established in 1877 and today boasts a massive collection of antiques and objects d'art, encompassing the cultural heritage of the island. Exhibits include artifacts from archaeological sites all over Sri Lanka, and more than 4,000 ancient palm leaf manuscripts. Among the exhibits is displayed the regalia of the Kandyan Kings dating back to the 17th century. Alongside the archaeological museum in Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha is the Natural History Museum, which features the island's fauna and flora in dioramas. The dual museums are a good introduction for visitors interested in discovering the culture and 2,500-year history of the island.
Museum closed on Fridays. Opening time: Daily 9am to 5pm
Cinnamon Gardens About 5km south of Fort and 2km inland, Cinnamon Gardens is Colombo’s ritziest address. A century ago it was covered in cinnamon plantations. Today it contains elegant tree-lined streets and the posh mansions of the wealthy and powerful, as well as the city’s biggest park, several sports grounds and a cluster of museums and galleries.
The centre piece of Cinnamon Gardens is the 50-acre University of Colombo (also called the University of Ceylon) campus, which originally opened as the Ceylon Medical School in 1870.
Cinnamon Gardens, further south, is Colombo's most fashionable neighborhood, with elegant mansions, tree-lined streets and the city's largest park.
Viharamahadevi Park This is Colombo’s biggest park, originally Viharamahadevi Park called Victoria Park but renamed in the 1950s after the mother of King Dutugemunu. It’s notable for its superb flowering trees, which bloom in March, April and early May. The broad Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha cuts across the middle of the park, while Colombo’s white-domed Old Town Hall (also called White House) overlooks the park from the northeast. Working elephants sometimes spend the night in the park, happily chomping on palm branches.
Gangaramaya Temple A short walk east of the South Beira Lake Gangaramaya Temple is the sprawling Gangaramaya Temple. Run by one of Sri Lanka’s popular monk (Podi Hamuduruwo), the temple complex has a library, a museum (donation Rs 100) and an extraordinarily eclectic array of be jeweled and gilded gifts presented by devotees and well-wishers over the years. Gangaramaya is the focus of the Navam Perahera on the February poya (full moon) day each year.
Colombo Harbour During the nineteenth century Colombo port Acquired the sobriquet the "Charring Cross of the East" thanks to its location at the crossroads of Indian Ocean trade. Colombo has one of the world's largest man-made harbors. Most of Sri Lanka's foreign trade passes through the port equipped with modern facilities for containerized cargo.
Galle Face Green Galle Face Green, immediately south of the Fort, is a long, narrow park. A narrow channel of Beira Lake separates the park from Slave Island (Kaffir Veldt), actually a peninsula where the Dutch held the African slaves (Kaffirs) brought to Ceylon by the Portuguese in 1630. The Galle Face Green is the city's most elegant promenade and famous picnic spot. Lined with palm trees & next to the coast, much like a tropical version of Hollywood Boulevard, this mile-long stretch in the heart of the city, it is a relic of the British era, laid out in 1859 it was used for horse racing. It’s a beehive of seekers of leisure. Numerous small food stalls providing refreshments, the green brightens up in the evenings, hosting families & children playing sports & flying kites. The Green frequently hosts numerous international & local concerts & performances, such as the recently concluded World Drum Festival. Cannons used during Colonial war times still decorates the Greens. The famous colonial styled Galle Face hotel, known as Asia's Emerald on the Green since 1864, is next to the Greens.
Shopping complexes Majestic City (called MC), Liberty Plaza and Crescat Boulevard along the Galle road are popular among the locals where you could shop for garments, shoes, handicrafts, computers, audio & video CDs & DVDs & books. Other places are House of Fashions, Odel, Romafour etc.
BMICH The Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall being the very first purpose-built convention center in Asia combines the best of professional conference facilities with the once in a life time opportunity to visit an island known as the paradise on earth - Sri Lanka! Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) is reputed for its high-quality specialized conference facilities and personalized customer service. A multi-functional complex comprising of 9 buildings, the BMICH is a complete events venue in Colombo, Sri Lanka and covers around 37 acres of landscape. This prestigious centre enjoys its status as South Asia's top exhibition complex and is one of Asia's most modern forum. It comprises of high-tech facilities, modern convention halls & rooms and also offers a spacious delegation room of 16,000 sq ft. With a variety of advanced technical services and facilities at its convenience, BMICH is Sri Lanka's most popular events venue and is the place to host musical dramas, beauty pageants, conferences, exhibitions, plenary sessions and trade events.
Independence Commemoration Hall Independence Commemoration Hall located on Independence Square is known as one of the most prominent locations in Colombo. It is commonly used as a place where Sri Lankans come together in unison for significant national celebrations and cultural activities. The Independence Commemoration Hall is also used to host ceremonies that mark national unity.
This unique and outstanding monument positioned in the heart of Sri Lanka’s commercial capital Colombo, commemorates the country’s independence from foreign rule. Sri Lanka gained independence on the 4th of February 1948 from the British who were the final colonial rulers of the country.
However, this exceptional memorial hall was constructed quite some time after Sri Lanka gained independence. Keeping in line with ancient local architectural styles, the Independence Commemoration Hall was built according to a Kandyan audience hall. It is made completely out of concrete with enormous pillars. The architecture here is simply elegant and is of distinct Sri Lankan style that can’t be found elsewhere in the world.
One of the unique features of the Independence Commemoration Hall is its rows of stone lions that guard this great monument, which is also an impressive piece of art. The elaborated stone carvings and painting found at the memorial hall are simply breathtaking. This striking site in Colombo has become a major tourist attraction due to its historical significance and extraordinary work of architecture.
A statue of Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake is placed at the head of The Independence Commemoration Hall. Even today, Sri Lankan citizens and leaders come to The Independence Commemoration Hall on Independence Square to celebrate Independence Day each year in a spectacular ceremony.
Town Hall The Town Hall of Colombo is the Headquarters of the Colombo Municipal Council and the office of the Mayor of Colombo. Built in front of the Viharamahadevi Park, it is the meeting place for the elected municipal council. The foundation stone was laid on May 24, 1924 by T. Reid, CCS the Mayor of Colombo at the time and the work was completed in 1927. Designed by S.J Edwards, it was originally meant to house the office of the mayor and the council chamber, and as a venue for functions with large Ballrooms. The all white Town Hall, with its colonnades & white dome in the centre brings into the mind a well known image; Washington's White House, home of US presidents.
Numerous casinos, bars, nightclubs & pubs. Blue elephant at the Hilton, The Boom in the Galadari Hotel, Cascades at Cinnamon Grand Colombo & Legends at Majestic City and many more.
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