Formerly the capital of Sri Lanka, and still the largest city and main port, Colombo remains the gateway for tours to Sri Lanka with its airport, Bandaranaike International, nearby. Find out what sights and attractions Colombo has to launch you into your holidays in Sri Lanka.
The Fort Area
The Fort Area of Colombo is the origin of the settlement, a fortified area designed to protect and overlook the port. This was once an area enclosed by ramparts, which were later removed to make room for development. The best of the five star Sri Lanka holiday hotels are here, as well as an array of architectural sites. Now it has become a centre of business, with modern skyscrapers sharing streets with three-hundred-year-old historic buildings.
A prime example of this can be seen in the imposing World Trade Centre’s white twin towers. With the cylindrical Bank of Ceylon adjacent, they contrast with the neo-baroque stone pillars and long steps of the Presidential Secretariat building, which is rather dwarfed by its modern companions. The World Trade Centre is surely a sight worthy of your holidays in Sri Lanka, with its identical towers of forty floors making it the second tallest twin tower in South Asia.
Located directly south of the Fort area is the Slave Island suburb, so called because of its dubious use during the Dutch period of occupation. Now this is the place to come on your luxury holiday to Sri Lanka to see the decorative colour of Hindu temples including the Sri Muthumariamman and the Shiva Subramania Swami temples. The outside of both towers are decorated in multi-colour with hosts of stone icons and statues.
Also adjacent to the Fort Area is the Pettah Bazaar: the place to collect a Sri Lanka holiday bargain. The cobbled streets here are home to a dazzling selection of goods, such as brightly painted fabrics, glassware, suits and handbags. Like a sprawling department store each street specialises in its own product, so you might find electrical goods in one narrow lane, and jewellery in another. Another reason for making Pettah part of your Sri Lanka holiday is the arresting Jami Ul Alfar mosque. It is hidden among the bustle of the streets here, but its tiled red and white hatching, cupolas, towers and intricate barbershop-like columns make it unmissable.
If you fancy more of a quiet walk on your Sri Lanka holiday Viharamahadevi Park is the place to go. It is a green public park with flowering trees, fountains and water features. It is home to a small zoo, and a children’s play area.
Another peaceful retreat can be found six miles from Colombo on a raised area of sacred parkland overlooking the river. The Kelaniya Royal Temple (properly known as The Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara) will draw in Sri Lanka holidaymakers who want to see a place visited by Bhudda two thousand years ago. Within its white dome, the temple’s painted walls reference Indian styles and its ceilings are decorated with emblems of cosmology. There are charming statuettes, and a famous carving of a reclining Bhudda.
All together, Colombo’s collection of colonial influences and old Sri Lankan buildings make this vibrant historical city the perfect introduction to your Sri Lanka luxury holidays.
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