Colombo: Museums & Attractions

Colombo Museums & Attractions
Museums & Attractions

As the capital and main port of Sri Lanka, Colombo is home to many attractions, which include three sets of foreign rulers-the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British.
Start at the famous Buddhist temple, Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, where it is said that Buddha practiced some 2,000 years ago. Visitors can see the excellent carving of a reclining Buddha.

At the National Musum, which is set in an impressive colonial building, the country's cultural heritage is offered up through exhibits that include half a million books, more than 4,000 archaic palm-leaf manuscripts, rock sculptures from ancient cities, bronze brassware, and weapons that were once used by Sri Lankan kings. There are also interesting paintings that represet ancient times and antique demon masks. Don't miss the regalia of the Kandyan Kings, which dates to the 17th century.

The city's oldest Dutch church, Wolvendaal Church, still boasts its original floor tiles from 1813. They were made from tombstones from the Dutch chuch in the Fort.
To the south of the city, at the Galle Face Green, you can see cannons that were used during colonial war times. And to the north of the city is the Fort District, named for the Dutch and Portugeuse forts that were built there. See the famous clock tower, the president's residence, and several colonial buildings that date back to the days of the British Empire

Tourist Attractions


A remnant of the Dutch period and an interesting link of Colombo's Dutch history, this stone church on Wolvendaal Street, built in 1749 has unique tombstones set into the floor, which were moved from a church in the Fort in 1813.


What was once a swamp adjoining the famous Beira Lake is now a landmark in the capital city. It has expanded into a vibrant complex comprising the Gangaramaya Temple, the 'Seemamalakaya' - an assembly hall for buddhist monks - and a vocational training institute in the picturesque Beira Lake. This unique Seemamalakaya was designed by the famous Sri Lankan Architect Geoffrey Bawa among whose unparallel work is the New Parliament Complex just outside the city of Colombo and numerous unique hotels scattered across the island.


The Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall built by a Chinese grant is a landmark in the city depicting the architecture of its donor country. It was constructed as the very first purpose built convention centre in Asia to hold the Non-Align Summit in Colombo in 1976 having the best of professional conference facilities.


The Colombo National Museum was established on 1st January 1877. Its founder was Sir William Henry Gregory, the British Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka.) Housed in a fine colonial – era building, the Museum is famous for collections of ancient royal regalia; Sinhalese art work, (carvings, sculptures etc.) antique furniture, chains, and Ola manuscripts. The museum contains more than 4,000 palm leaf manuscripts and ancient and medieval jewelry.


Independence Commemoration Hall (also Independence Memorial Hall) is a National monument in Sri Lanka built in commemoration of the Independence of Sri Lanka from the British rule with the establishment of Dominion of Ceylon on February 4, 1948. It is located at the Independence Square (formally Torrington Square) in the Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo. The monument was built at the location where the formal ceremony marking the start of self rule, with the opening of the first parliament by the HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester occurred at a special podium on February 4, 1948. Located at the head of the monument is the statue of the first Prime Minister of the country Rt. Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake the "The Father of the Nation". Most of the annual National Independence Day celebrations have been held here.


Sri Lanka Handicrafts Board was established on 17th January 1983, under the National Crafts Council & allied Institutions Act No. 35 of 1982. Better known as "LAKSALA" this is a state owned corporation under the Ministry of Rural Industries and Self Employment Bureau. Promotion is set up to preserve and develop traditional skill of the craftsmen.

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