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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for Cultural Sites To Be Seen Around Colombo - Get To Know The History Behind The City
Joanna James Joanna James
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Cultural Sites To Be Seen Around Colombo - Get To Know The History Behind The City

Colombo is a bustling city with a mix of contemporary and historical locations, and buildings that offer a variety of experiences. Explore these sites to understand the history behind this city.


Colombo National Museum

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 inside 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.


Independence Square

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.


Old Colombo Lighthouse

First established as a clock tower in 1860, the tower, which at the time was the tallest building in Colombo, was later turned into a lighthouse after a lantern was added 5 years later. The original clock, made by the same company who made Big Ben, was replaced in 1913. The lighthouse was deactivated in the 1950's after its light became obscured by the buildings that were constructed around it. A designated monument, the light house still functions as a clock tower to this day. The Colombo lighthouse is said to be the only lighthouse in the world, which tells time, in the middle of a busy road.


Gangarama Temple

Located amid the city's high-rise buildings and various boutique hotels like the Uga Residence, for example, is the Gangarama temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple with a long history. The temple 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 temple is also the starting point of the famed Nawan Perahera, an extravagant religious and cultural pageant that takes place every February.


Wolvendaal Church

Built in 1749, this church is one of the oldest Dutch churches in the country. Located in Colombo Fort, the white-washed exterior appears plain and humble, but the interior is decorated with charming Dutch furniture and wooden carved pews. A highlight of the church, are the tombstones of five former Dutch governors, as well as the oldest Dutch tombstone in the country.