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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 16, 2024
Headline for Top 5 Historical Places to Visit in Colombo- Must-see sites while in the city!
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 5 Historical Places to Visit in Colombo- Must-see sites while in the city!

Colombo has quite a few significant spots with a lot of history behind them. Here are a few places you should stop by while in the largest city of Sri Lanka.


Galle Face Green

First built during the times of the Portuguese occupation of the coastal areas of Sri Lanka in the 1500s. The ramparts were further extended by the Dutch colonists. Certain sections of the fortifications are visible, along with firing cannons. However, for the locals, Galle Face Green is simply their favourite urban park. Situated right at the centre of the commercial district, this green spot offers glorious views of the Indian Ocean. Couples, children and families throng here during weekends and evenings to play cricket, fly kites and socialise. Don't forget to try the Isso vadai if ever you are there. This deep-fried prawn fritter is sold by vendors at the Green so don't forget to munch on a few, while enjoying the views. You can skip across to the Galle Face Hotel, equally famous in its own right as the first hotel on the island built during the English colonial period.


Independence Square

One of the most historically significant buildings in Colombo is Independence Square. It was built in 1948 to commemorate the British handing over sovereignty of the land to the people. The architecture is constructed according to traditional Sinhalese and Kandyan architecture. It is a popular spot for people to sit and idle away in the afternoon. The area is a popular walking path as well. Towards the evenings, it is a nice place to get some photos as the lights are lit, casting a beautiful glow to the historic site.


Visit the Gangarama Temple

Located close to Beira Lake, the main lake in the city is the Gangarama Temple. This historically significant temple is one of the oldest in Colombo, constructed in the late 19th century.
This beautiful temple and grounds are filled with exquisite art and architecture and have a calming and tranquil presence. The temple houses a museum of ancient relics and is a centre for Buddhist learning for novice monks. Evenings are a great time to visit and immerse in the beauty and spirituality of the place.


Colombo Dutch Museum

Sri Lanka has a long colonial history. The island was invaded by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British at different times. Thus, aspects of the colonial lifestyle have blended into Sri Lankan society. Get to know all the details at the Colombo Dutch Museum. The building where the museum is housed was built in the 17th century and was the home of the Dutch governor at the time. The museum artefacts highlight over 200 years of Dutch rule on the coastal areas of the islands from 1658-1796. Get to see many antiquities such as furniture, apparel, artwork, and weapons from that era.


Colombo National Museum

The Museum in Colombo is the biggest on the island and has been undergoing renovations for the past several years. The refurbished areas are now open to the public. Important antiquities are housed here, including the throne and crown of the monarchs of Kandy. The artefacts stretch across 11 galleries representing the seven ancient kingdoms. Also, the gardens are quaint and pretty, and so is the building, a great place to relax in the afternoon with a cup of tea or coffee at the nearby coffee shop. One can find many hotels near Colombo and within the suburbs such as the Pegasus Reef.