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Must Visit Places in Colombo

Home > Colombo > Lists | Architecture | Day Trips | Outdoor | Places of Interest
by Catalina Forbes (subscribe)
Catalina Forbes is a travel writer who bases her content on many thrilling escapades experienced across the world.
Published November 27th 2017
Colombo has a lot to offer, do take note of the places below as they have a lot of cultural significance to any resident and will be a great way to know the island better if you're a visitor.

Independence Square

attractions in colombo
Photo by Sanjay S V via Instagram

The Independence Commemoration Hall is a national monument. A symbol of independence, it was actually built long after the country achieved independence from British rule. Located on Independence Square, the massive audience hall was designed out of concrete, with tall columns, similar to architecture seen in ancient cities.

A key feature of the hall is the lines of stone lions around the borders, which act as guards to this impressive monument. Detailed stone carvings, inside and out, is an intriguing and beautiful sight, which further highlights the country's long history and ancient civilisation.

Apart from the hall itself, the surrounding area features lush greenery and quiet walking paths, for anyone who wants to enjoy a quiet stroll.

Colombo National Museum

national musuem in colombo

Photo by Amila Tennakoon via Flickr, (CC BY 2.0)

There are plenty of places to see and things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka, but you must visit the national museum to really get a sense of the country's long history.

Founded by Sir William Henry Gregory, one of the British Governors during the colonial era, the museum is located in a picturesque Italian styled mansion.

The oldest and largest museum in the country, it is filled with over 10,000 historical treasures and antiques from the time of Sri Lanka's ancient kingdoms to more modern periods.

The museum also contains a library with a large collection of rare books and chronicles, some of which, guests are allowed to browse through.

Gangaramaya Temple

Photo by Chamal_Rashmika via Instagram

The Gangaramaya temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple with a long history, is a popular attraction for tourist, thanks to its location near the scenic Beira Lake, and its vast collection of antiques, and gilded gifts that have been left by well-wishers and devotees.

The Navam Perahera is one of the highlights of the Buddhist calendar in the Sri Lanka. The full moon day that falls in February is a day of colour and celebration for the Gangaramaya temple. The inception of the Perahera dates back to 1979 and since it has been an annual event.

On the day of the Perahera, elephants are adorned in costumes and carry the sacred relics around the city. There are various dancers, drummers and flautists who also take part in the Perahera. Buddhist monks, as well as other traditional dancers, also take part in the parade.

The temple also decorates and organises the most colourful Vesak celebration festivities in the city. The area where the temple is located now was a swamp a few years ago and pilgrims had to take a boat on Beira in order to reach Seema Malakaya. However today much development has taken place and it is one of the most visited temples in the city.

The Wolvendaal Church

colonial buildings in colombo

Navin Sigamany, Wolfendahl church, CC BY-SA 1.0

Built in 1733, the Wolvendaal Church is the oldest Protestant Church on the island, and most importantly, it is still in use.

When Colombo was under the Dutch, this part of Colombo was known as Wolvendaal, meaning Valley of Wolves, and thus, the church got its name.

The Wolvendaal Church sits atop an elevated ground and looks over the fort and the harbour in Colombo. After so many years, the church maintains its old world charm and serene vibes even with the rising skylines and modern buildings coming up in Colombo.

Following the Doric style, the building's foundation forms a cross. History states that the church was built using locally sourced materials and labour. The roof is raised in the centre to make a dome and makes for an impressive ceiling.

The Colombo Harbour

colombo harbor
Photo by Sherie Lou Balita via Instagram

The Colombo Harbour has been used as a port by the country since the 14th Century. Today, the still bustling port handles most of Sri Lanka's shipping due to its strategic position in the Indian Ocean.

Once a trading post for the Portuguese to sell cinnamon, the Colombo port is currently ranked 23rd globally. The area surrounding the port is considered prime property and is home to five-star hotels and high-end cafes in Colombo.

Surrounding the Colombo Harbour are many areas of interest. The Fort area was once an early Portuguese settlement which has now been turned into a mixture of hotels, shopping districts, and Colombo's financial district.
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