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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 16, 2024
Headline for Top 5 Cultural Attractions in Colombo – Explore the Commercial Hub of Sri Lanka
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 5 Cultural Attractions in Colombo – Explore the Commercial Hub of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Colombo has had a past of changing fortunes. The raging three-decade-long civil war, which ended in 2009, hasn't been able to sweep the city of its elegant cultural attractions. Here are some of the must-visit cultural attractions in Colombo.



Gangaramaya is one of the most ancient of the Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, which was first founded by Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thero, an eminent Buddhist monk who is known to have led several rebellions in order to gain independence of the country. After his death, the temple was administered by his chief pupil, Dewundara Sri Jinarathana Nayaka Thera. He took the first steps in transforming the temple into the world-acclaimed educational institute for young monks. Located approximately 11.8 kilometres away from Pegasus Reef, you may even see young couples dressed in traditional attire taking photographs here on their wedding day.


St. Lucia's Cathedral

Named after Saint Lucy of Cecily, this cathedral is the oldest and largest of its kind in Sri Lanka. This cathedral, despite its majestic grandeur that one may witness nowadays, actually has humble origins as a small chapel of wood and cadjan. It was later transformed into an exquisite cathedral to which the foundation was laid under the guidance of Bishop Sillani and Reverent Tabarrani. Catholics around Sri Lanka, regardless of their income, has donated towards the fund, which was set up to facilitate the construction of this magnificent cathedral. After almost thirty years of hard work, the construction of St. Lucia's Cathedral was completed, and eucharistic celebrations in all three main languages of Sri Lanka are held at this place.


The Gem Museum

The Gem Museum is a great place to visit during a stay at your hotel in Wattala. Contrary to its name, the Gem Museum isn't your typical museum, but a high-end jewellery store with a fine collection of jewellery that is adorned with some of the exquisite gems found in Sri Lanka. However, it does exhibit several collections of precious and semi-precious Sri Lankan jewels, encased in protective glass enclosures. Here, contemporary jewellery is made with delicate state-of-the-art craftsmanship while the gems are sourced from the very own mines of Gem Museum. Plus, the jewellery comes with a certificate of authenticity when you make a purchase.


Independence Square

Now, if you're searching for a place to spend a lovely time with your family in the evening, Colombo's Independence Square is indeed a great place to consider. This was initially built as a national monument to celebrate the independence gained from the British in 1948. Nowadays, it is used as a park where people are seen jogging, cycling, or taking a leisurely stroll towards the evening. Make sure that you plan your visit avoiding the noon to escape the harsh rays of the sun. This is a beautiful place that would add that necessary 'cultural' vibe to your Instagram feed.


Floating Market Pettah

Floating Market of Pettah can be found just one kilometre away from Main Street. It offers a breath of fresh air from the constant hustle in Colombo. It is a true oasis right at the heart of Colombo, complete with wooden panels, cement walkways surrounded by pleasant water views. This leisure venue was declared open in 2014 and offers a range of shopping opportunities in the form of small stalls, decked with the most colourful displays you can ever imagine – keep your cameras focused to click the fancy scenery that unexpectedly launched on your path during a visit to this beautiful place in Colombo.