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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for 05 Must Visit Places in Colombo – Something Old, Something New, Always Fascinating
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05 Must Visit Places in Colombo – Something Old, Something New, Always Fascinating

Cosmopolitan Colombo is right there as a vibrant and chic Asian hub for loads of fun, surprisingly the city marching forward is an amalgamation of past colonial splendours and modern styles.


Independence Square

Head over to the affluent confines of Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7 and you will stumble upon Independence Square; a historical monument built to honour the day Sri Lanka gained independence from the British. The monument better known as Independence Memorial Hall was built after the country obtained liberation from British Rule in February 1948; it was meticulously planned and designed on the lines of ancient Sri Lankan architectural stylings and is likened to a Kandyan Kingdom audience hall. Each of the columns within the hall is carefully engraved with intricate workings of art while the most stunning factor is the majestic stone lions that guard the entrance. The expansive gardens and jogging tracks that surround the monument are quite popular and frequented by locals and visitors during the early morning or evening hours.


The National Museum

An icon in Colombo the National Museum too is within close range of Independence Square; it is a treasure house of many artefacts and is the largest and oldest museum in the country. Housed within a colonial mansion built according to Italian architectural styles the place was commissioned by then British Governor Sri Willian Henry Gregory. Opened in 1877 the museum housed a collection of 800 artefacts which today has grown to over 100,000 treasures. The vintage book collection is of particular interest to history buffs while the place specialises in conducting research into the subjects of anthropology, ethnology, crafts and culture.


Colombo Fort and Harbour

If you love the old world melee and charm of ancient trading posts do head over to the busy environs of Colombo Fort and Harbour. Colombo Fort was set up by the Portuguese's and eventually better established by the invading Dutch. Colombo harbour enjoys a colourful history; the harbour was invaluable to Arabian, Greek and Egyptian traders who used the port for shipping reasons until 1506. Once the Portuguese took over the country they established the Fort as a means of safeguarding the harbour. Over time the invading Dutch and then British Empire developed the harbour and Colombo Fort. Today Colombo Port is the busiest in the country and sits between ancient Arabian merchant buildings, colonial facades and a general hodge podge of locals and visitors going about their business.


The Gangaramaya Temple

The 2,000 year old Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most stunning in Colombo. Sitting within the Beira Lake the temple is believed to have been established in the 19th century by Don Bastion a wealthy trader and ship owner intent on reviving Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The shrine is quite close to the Prime Minister's residence - Temple Trees as well as Residence by Uga Escapes. And is by far one of the best locations to seek Colombo boutique hotels; due to its convenient connections to many points of interest in the city including luxury dining venues.


Galle Face Green

Just a hop step and jump from the Gangaramaya area is Galle Face; Colombo's most popular leisure park. It is more a large green than a park that overlooks the beautiful Indian Ocean. Galle Face was once a race course and before that the expansive gardens of the British Governor. Resplendent with ancient cannons the place is loved for invigorating sea breezes, food kiosks, kite flying and simply relaxing.