About Colombo Fort
Colombo Fort is the cultural, financial and economic hub of the city and is home to many important buildings and offices. It is the supreme business district of Srilanka and is home to the Stock Exchange building and the World Trade Centre, which is the tallest building in the country.
The area is a very dynamic area as it not only facilitates trade and business in its lanes but also has some of the finest food stalls, tourist places, casinos and bars. Colombo Fort also has the popular Galle Face Green Promenade which is sea-facing ground built-in 1859.
It is one of the finest and most popular places in the city. In the yesteryears, the area was home to the biggest palace in Sri Lanka which was demolished and repaired from the Dutch-era to the Portuguese-era. Till date, the remains of the palace are in existence like the Bastin Dan Briel, Battenburg Batteries, etc. Colombo Fort is also home to the official residence of the President of Sri Lanka and other important Ministers.
The fort area also has the Consulate of Spain, Seychelles, Latvia, Denmark and Lithuania. Colombo Fort is the ultimate place to enjoy the original vibe of the Island nation and embrace the rich culture of the country through its food and various other things and activities.
How to Reach Colombo Fort
Bandaranaike International Airport is 43 km from Colombo Fort. One can reach Colombo airport by bus, taxi or train.
1. By Bus: Take a government bus from Colombo Fort to reach the Sri Lankan International Airport. Katunayake Bus station is the closest bus station to the airport. Bus number 244/3 takes you to Colombo Fort from Colombo Area.
2. By Train: Train is the cheapest mode of transport between the airport and fort area. Katunayake is the closest railway station to the airport and one can find trains to Colombo Fort from this station.
3. By Taxi: A taxi ride can cost up to 2500 TKR and takes around 30-35 minutes.
What Not to Miss at Colombo Fort
The city of Colombo is a cultural and modern hub with many places to visit. Below are some of the famous places to visit around Colombo Fort.
1. National Museum: The biggest Museum in Sri Lanka, the National Museum was built in 1876 by the then British Governor of Sri Lanka. The museum houses some of the finest Ancient statues of Sri Lanka. Each and every statue in the museum belongs to a historic era and depicts a story of itself.
One of the finest things to look out for in the museum is the items from the Royal Family of Sri Lanka. It has the royal crown and King’s throne. Also, one can find the various outfits of the various Kings of Sri Lanka.
Other than the royal items, the museum also has various paintings, carvings, swords, guns, masks and some statues.
- Address: Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Colombo 7.
Colonial Buildings in the Fort Area: Surrounded by sea from two sides, Colombo Fort is home to some of the finest buildings from the Colonial Era in the entire Indian Subcontinent. The locality was the prime economic centre in the yesteryears and now houses some of the most beautiful Colonial buildings in the country.
Colombo Fort has buildings like the Old Dutch Hospital, President’s House, Old Galle Buck Lighthouse, Lloyd Buildings, St. Peter’s Church, etc.
2. Gangaramaya Temple: The Buddhist temple of Gangaramaya is one of the most visited places in Colombo Fort. The temple is filled and surrounded by many statues of Buddha made up of stone, gold and white plastic.
Other than the various statues, the temple also has a library, a souvenir shop and a museum. The temple praises Elephants and in one of the corners, you will find a stuffed elephant which is one of the main attractions of the temple.
- Address: 61 Sri Jinarathana Rd, Colombo 2
3. Independence Memorial Hall: Sri Lanka got its Independence from Britain on February 4th 1948 and this hall is the landmark of the freedom struggle. The hall has a beautiful statue of Independent Sri Lanka’s first President and the “Father of the Nation”, Don Stephen Senanayake.
The hall is surrounded by a beautiful green garden and the architecture of the hall is inspired by the Royal Audience Hall in Kandy. The Independence Memorial Hall is now used as a popular venue from various religious and annual national day celebrations.
4. Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil Temple: This temple is also known as the Captain’s Garden Kovil and it is the oldest Hindu temple in Colombo. The architecture of the temple is inspired by the South-Indian culture and it has various sculptures of goddesses on it.
Alongside the maid deity of Easwaran (Shiva), the temple also has the deities of Lord Ganesha. Locals visit the temple in large numbers and the temple is filled with tourists during the ‘aarti’ time.
- Address: 11/15, Captain’s Garden Kovil Street, Colombo 10
Things to do in Colombo Fort
Colombo Fort houses many important historical and commercial buildings. The fort area has some of the finest places which Tourists can visit.
Below are the various things to do in Colombo Fort
1. Visiting the Dutch Hospital: The Dutch Hospital is the oldest building in Colombo Fort and was built by the Dutch East India Company in 1681. It served as a major healthcare centre for the workers of the Dutch East India Company. Post the Dutch rule in Colombo, the building served as the major centre for various business meetings and exhibitions.
Nowadays, the Dutch Hospital is a major shopping centre and an architectural monument. It has 17th Century Dutch architecture and has many shops in its courtyards. One can also visit the various restaurants located inside the Dutch Hospital. The building has become the pride of Colombo Fort and is one of the highly visited buildings in Colombo Fort.
2. Visit Beira Lake: Located around a couple of kilometres from the Colombo fort area, Beira Lake is a beautiful tourist destination. Take a long walk from Colombo Fort to Beira Lake and visit the popular Lovers Island.
The beautiful suspension bridge between the Colombo Fort and Beria Lake is one of the most beautiful bridges in the city. Beira Lake is one of the most popular destinations in Colombo Fort for bird watching.
3. Visit Old Colombo Lighthouse: Located in the Chatham Street of the Colombo Fort area, this lighthouse was built in 1856 and is now a top tourist place in the area. The lighthouse is more than 130 feet tall and there is a small room on the top of it from where tourists can see the beautiful areas of the city and the ocean.
4. Shopping at the Pettah Streets: The main shopping street of Pettah Street is located between Olcott Mawatha and Main Street. It is one of the oldest market places in the Colombo Fort area. A few buildings in Pettah Street are one of the oldest in the fort area. One can shop for fresh fruits and healthy vegetables to beautiful handicrafts and some magnificent clocks.
The various streets in Pettah offer different items. You may get confused in the various streets as they look like a maze. Hop in any of the shops and look out for some beautiful sarees and traditional Sri Lankan clothes.
Other Essential Information About Colombo Fort
History of Colombo Fort
The fort area was first controlled by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. The Portuguese started to establish their business in and around the Fort area and built various trade centres. They made the Fort area an important business hub and soon started to expand their reach in the interior parts of the country.
In the mid-16th century, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) was captured by the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch controlled Colombo Fort and other nearby area for almost 200 years. They not only controlled the fort area but also had established major business and trade centres.
Dutch also constructed heavy artillery and various defence systems on the border of the fort area like the Battenburg Battery which was the biggest of all the Gun Batteries in Colombo Fort. Colombo was later captured by the Britishers after the Dutch war. The Britishers flourished in the major areas in Colombo Fort.
They not only paved the war for the establishment of various business houses but also built many urban centres like the Legislative Council, State Council and Ceylon Radio in the Fort area. Many activities in the various Indian states were controlled by the Britishers from Sri Lanka and managed major trades from Colombo Fort.
Where to Eat in Colombo Fort
The Colombo Fort houses some of the finest restaurants and food items in the city. Visit the various stalls and restaurants and enjoy the most mouth-watering dishes in the city.
Below are some of the finest places to eat in Colombo Fort.
1. SideWalk Cafe: Located near the Colombo City Hotel, this restaurant is one of the finest places to eat in Colombo Fort. SideWalk is located near a beautiful sidewalk and is one of the most picturesque cafes in the area.
Address: Colombo City Hotel, Opposite World Trade Centre, Canal Road, Fort, Colombo 01.
Timings: 7 AM to 10.30 PM
Days: Monday to Sunday
2. Mihiri Foods: Located in the Kotahena locality of Colombo Fort, Mihiri Foods is a popular cafe in the area. Popular for its rice and curry, Mihiri Foods is highly visited by International tourists. Also, The cafe is known for the various fish paintings on its walls.
It is one of those restaurants which require advance bookings, especially during lunch hours.
- Address: 61, Mahavidyalaya Mawatha, Kotahena, Colombo 13
- Timings: 6 AM to 5 PM
- Days: Monday to Sunday
3. Sri Ambal Cafe: Sri Ambal Cafe is very popular for its South-Indian dishes like Medu Vada and Idli Sambar. The restaurant serves a traditional Sri Lankan sauce also known as Bonda. It is eaten with Dosa, which is one of the most popular side dishes in the restaurant.
The ambience of the Cafe is also very popular as the simple and subtle decoration and designs attract many tourists.
- Address: Bristol Street, Opposite Commercial Bank, Fort, Colombo 01
- Timings: 7 AM to 7 PM
- Days: Monday to Sunday
4. Bombay Sweet Centre: Located near Pettah Street, Bombay Sweet Centre is a popular cafe for desserts and other sweet items. One of the most popular things to try in Bombay Sweet Centre is Nannari, which is a traditional Sri Lankan cold drink.
- Address: 63, 2nd Cross Street, Pettah, Colombo 11
- Timings: 9.30 AM to 7 PM
- Days: Monday to Sunday
5. Nightlife in Fort-Colombo: Other than its cultural and religious places, Colombo Fort has a lot to offer to its young-guns. Home to some of the finest nightclubs and pubs, here are some of the best places to enjoy Nightlife in Colombo Fort.
6. Sky Lounge: Located in the Kingsbury Hotel. Sky Lounge is a terrace-bar and offers the finest views in the city. The lounge offers the charismatic view of the Indian Ocean on one side and the city lights on the other side. Other than its imported beers, Sky Lounge is also popular for its various mocktails.
- Address: 48 Janadhipathi Mawatha, The Kingsbury, Colombo, Sri Lanka,
7. Taphouse by RnR: With international cuisine, drinks and live shows, Taphouse by RnR is one of the most famous clubs in Colombo Fort. Other than its popular drinks and colourful mocktails, the club is also known for its interiors.
- Address: Canal Road, Dutch Hospital Complex, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
8. Margarita Blue: Featuring a beautiful garden, Margarita Blue is located on the terrace of the Galadari Hotel. Margarita Blue features some of the best live music entertainment shows in Colombo Fort. It features various Retro shows and some traditional Sri Lankan nights. Enjoy a cool drink and groove to the tunes of the music in Margarita Blue.
- Address: The Galadari Hotel, 64, Lotus Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
- Location: Colombo Fort is located on the western coast of Colombo.
- Entry fee: There is no entry fee in Colombo Fort. Although, the various places in the area like the National Museum, etc. may charge a nominal entry fee.
- Timings: The best time to visit and enjoy Colombo Fort and the various places is between 10 AM to 7 PM. Most of the popular places in the Fort open between 10 AM to 12 PM and shut down by 6 PM or 8 PM.
- Distance from Colombo Airport: Colombo Fort is around 43 km from the Colombo International Airport.
Tips for visiting Colombo Fort
1. Fort is the best tourist place in the city and to enjoy the place at leisure, here are a few tips.
2. Make sure that you have checked the various rules and regulations of the various places in Colombo Fort.
3. Always check the timings of the various places you wish to visit in Colombo Fort area.
4. Keep in mind that you do not throw litter in and around the area.
5. Make sure that you maintain silence near the public places and do not create unnecessary chaos.