Colombo’s three-mile long rampart, which separates the area covered by the Fort and Pettah, was originally built in the sixteenth century by the Portuguese and was then further developed by the Dutch and the British, the colonial powers which later occupied Sri Lanka. Today, it is the commercial hub of the country, consisting of government offices, banks, five-star hotels and the country’s largest wholesale bazaar. Pettah market is a maze of by lanes and small shops, crowded with people either loudly advertising their wares or searching for the best purchases. frantically buying and selling. Every imaginable item is sold here, and at a bargain – fruit, vegetables, fish, spices, fabric, homeware and even gold jewellery.
In the Fort district, many of the old colonial buildings still stand, in glorious contrast to the rest of Colombo’s modern skyline. Interesting buildings to visit include: Galle Face Hotel (once the mansion of a British Governor and one of the oldest hotels in Asia); Presidential Secretariat (previously the Parliament house); Grand Oriental Hotel (previously barracks for soldiers during Dutch period), the red and white Cargills & Millers department store buildings, the General Post Office and the Fort Police Station (previously a Dutch hospital). The St. Peter’s Church and the Wovendaal Church, located by the Grand Oriental Hotel, were also built during the Dutch period.
If you are interested in discovering more about the history of Colombo Fort and admiring its beautiful colonial architecture, why not try the Colombo’s Colonial History walking tour?