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Updated by Joanna James on Sep 13, 2018
Headline for Things to Do Around Matara - Beaches, adventure and exploration!
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Things to Do Around Matara - Beaches, adventure and exploration!

There's a whole array of things to do in and around the beautiful city of Matara. Let's look at some of the very best.

1

Star Fort

The Star Fort is considered to have been built by the Dutch to compensate for deficiencies in the nearby rampart. However, its smaller size meant that it only had the capabilities to protect a handful of bureaucrats. Upon visiting you'll notice the construction date embossed across the main gate (1765) along with the VOC insignia as well as the coat of arms of the governor during that period. Within the fort, there lies a tiny museum that displays the former soldiers sleeping quarters as well as prisoners cells.

2

Dutchman's Street

The Dutchman's Street is a new café & restaurant that serves a variety of international dishes such as fried chicken wings and batter fried prawns, all in the colonial enclave of the Matara Fort. The café also occasionally hosts DJ's and live performers, making this beautiful café and its sea facing garden a truly memorable one. There are many things to do in Matara, more than a single day's worth. You'll find plenty of accommodation nearby like Soul Resorts for example.

3

Old Dutch Trade Centre

Towards the western side of town, you'll find a magnificent T-shaped building which was once the town's market but known today as the Old Dutch Trade Centre. This structure will fascinate architectural buffs as it has a truly imposing and steeply pitched roof, a grand gabled entrance and three conical towers. It is open-sided and is supported by gigantic wooden beams and columns.

4

Matara Fort

The Matara Fort is the result of so much change. This is a historic and rundown district that was once the heart of the Dutch and then the British. The area has such impressive significance in its architecture where you'll find amazing old colonial mansions throughout the area. The river bank towards the west corner of the Fort is utterly serene and is home to some of Matara's famous crocodiles.

5

Weherahena Temple

Towards the east side of Matara, 1km off the main road, inland, you will find a temple that features an artificial cave decorated with over 200 painted scenes that illustrate the Buddha's life. There's also a huge Buddha statue in the temple. During the late-November or early December season, on poya (full moon), a perahera or procession of dancers and elephants are hosted at the temple in celebration of the anniversary of its founding.

6

Dutch Rampart

Built back in the 18th century to protect the VOC's kachcheri or administrative office, the rampart's structure is a little strange. Although it was originally meant to be a part of the large fort, dire cost issues back in the day, led to it ending up as what it stands today. The rampart, however, borders the atmospheric and serene Matara Fort district.

7

Polhena Beach

The Polhena Beach is often considered to be the best in the surrounding area. It has a small sandy cove that's sheltered by a reef offshore. The beach is immensely popular for snorkelling and is a pristine spot to watch turtles as they are known to frequent the area.

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