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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 16, 2024
Headline for The Best Museums to Visit in Colombo - A better look at the island’s history
Joanna James Joanna James
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The Best Museums to Visit in Colombo - A better look at the island’s history

Colombo has a historic side to it that will interest you to no end, and if you want to know about the island's journey through times, here are a few places for you to go to.


About the historic spots in Colombo

Colombo has many historic spots, whether it be a collection of historic items or places that have lovely stories attached to it from days long gone, like the Dutch Hospital near Galle Face. To explore them all in serenity, stay at hotels near Colombo the likes of Pegasus Reef.


National Museum in Colombo

The national museum was founded in 1877 and it has been, and still is a prime structure of historic significance that is visited by both local and foreign tourists. The building is styled with Italian architectural influences and has 2 floors with multiple viewing galleries too. The place also has the biggest number of ancient artefacts on display compared to any museum on the island. These artefacts range from the pre-historic era to the recent war-ridden past of Sri Lanka. There are exhibits with historical importance and those that showcase the island's heritage and culture to your viewing too.


Dutch Museum in Pettah

The Dutch armies took over control of the coastal areas in Sri Lanka from the Portuguese in 1656 AD. They later surrendered it to the British invaders in the early 1790s. Armoury, historically styled furniture, clothes, and porcelain among many other things that were in use during the period can be found at the Dutch Museum in Pettah. The building that houses these antiques is in itself a historical artefact. It was, during the Dutch control, the home of the then Governor Thomas van Rhee. The structure still stands strong after three long centuries and amidst countless battles.


Independence Memorial Museum

After the Dutch rule, Sri Lanka went to becoming a colony of the British. Unlike their predecessors, the British rulers managed to rule the entire island. This resulted in agitating local leaders and commoners alike. The uproar that followed continued right up until 1948 when Sri Lanka gained its independence. The Independence Memorial Hall was where the first Prime Minister of independent Sri Lanka gave his famous speech. In the basement of this historical building is a museum that celebrates all the heroes that fought for the country's freedom. Rows of statues, diaries, and weapons are on display at the venue. A separate section of the museum is also allocated for the display of artefacts owned by the soldiers who lost their lives during the 30-year civil war.


Museum of Natural History

Any tuk tuk driver would know where this Museum of Natural History is. But, chances are that they will not know that it lies on the same grounds as the National Museum. Once you enter the Nelum Pokuna Mawatha, you will find this quaint structure straight ahead. It is home to specimens of fauna and flora that are endemic to Sri Lanka. Some of the specimens are extinct or at serious risk of going extinct. It will take no longer than 30 minutes to complete the tour of this lovely museum.