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From top left to right: Skyline of Fort including the Old Parliament Building in the foreground and Bank of Ceylon WTC twin towers in the background, Grand Oriental Hotel, Cargills department store, Old Colombo Dutch Hospital, Old Colombo Lighthouse, restored colonial-era buildings, the WTC twin towers and Hilton Colombo Hotel
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Fort (Colombo) (කොටුව; கோட்டை) is the central business district of Colombo in Sri Lanka. It is the financial district of Colombo and the location of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the World Trade Centre of Colombo from which the CSE operates. It is also the location of the Bank of Ceylon headquarters. Along the foreshore of the Fort area is the Galle Face Green Promenade, built in 1859 under the governance of Sir Henry George Ward, the Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) during British colonial era. Fort is also home to the General Post Office, hotels, government departments and offices.
Known as Kolonthota, the area became notable as the site of the first landings of the Portuguese in the early 16th century and became one of their trading posts in the island. The Portuguese developed their trading post into a fortified base and harbour to extend their control of the interior of the island.
A detailed account of the first Portuguese settlement and fort can be found in the 1681 journal of Captain João Ribeyro;
"Colombo was at first only a factory palisaded round about; it was soon made more extensive, a small fort was built and at length it became a very pretty agreeable little town, with twelve bastions and an esplanade. For a long time the walls were only of taipa singella with a ditch which joined a lake and that lake shut in one third of the town on the land side; there were always 237 guns mounted, of from 10 to 36 lbs caliber. The town fronted a bay capable of containing a great number of small ships but they were always exposed to the north-wind; it was 1300 paces in circumference. Where the reef ran out, there was a small battery with a heavy piece of artillery which commanded the whole of the bay. The southern part of the town lay entirely open, being well defended on that side by the same reef."
Of the population, it is mentioned that 900 noble families and about 1500 of lesser citizens resided at the time in Colombo. The town's religious missions are said to have been numerous; from several of Our Lady's, St. Lawrence's, Cordeliers, Dominican, Augustine, Capuchin, House of Mercy to a hospital.
The fort was besieged several times during the Sinhalese–Portuguese War, most notably in 1587, but was held. It was conquered by the Dutch East India Company in 1656 after they intervened in the war. With Colombo gaining prominence as the center for Dutch administration in the island, it was expanded to protect against both the sea and the interior of the island. The Dutch demolished the Portuguese-built fortification and reconstructed it to take advantage of the natural strength of the location between a lake and the sea. The present layout of Fort and the Pettah was the result of the Dutch remodeling of Colombo. The Pettah was known in Dutch times as the 'Oude Stad' and consisted of the residential area of Colombo. The Fort was where they built their fortifications, it was known as 'the Casteel' in Dutch.
Following the British acquiring control of the Dutch-controlled areas on the coast of the island, the fort became the center of its administration. In 1815 with Kandyan Convention, Colombo became the capital of the entire island.The walls of the fort to the north, east and south were demolished between 1869 and 1871 as the fort was obsolete and to make room for new military barracks (the Echelon Barracks). The ramparts or walls of the fort were also considered an obstruction to planned urban development in the area. Dutch buildings were also demolished and were replaced by British-style architecture.
Although the ramparts were taken down, the area remained to be called the Fort. Many buildings in the fort area were home to the British administration on the island and as more legislative responsibilities were transferred to the Ceylonese, it became the site of the Legislative Council and the State Council. As well as the heart of the administrative capital, the fort area became the heart of the commercial capital too due to the expansion of the harbour after the 1870s. Following independence much of the center of government was centered in this area. However, with the expansion of the government administration, in 1980s the government began to move government ministries and departments to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte. This began with the shifting of Parliament from the old State Council Building to a new complex in Sri Jayawardenapura. The full shift of government was never completed, as many important government institutions still remain there.
There are a number of locations which contain the remains of the fort and its ramparts. These include the Delft Gate, located within the Commercial House along Bristol Street.The Delft Gate was one of the three main entrances into the fort, the others being the Galle Gate in the south and the Water Gate to the harbour. The Delft Gate was located on the eastern ramparts between the bastions of Delft and Hoorn. The remains of the wall that enclosed the Battenburg Battery can be found inside the harbour area. The Battenburg Battery was one of the two gun batteries built by the Dutch to cover the approach from the sea. A warehouse, known as a Pakhuis, which linked the fort and the outer defenses and was fortified with thick masonry in order to withstand bombardment from the sea also still remains. It currently houses the Colombo Maritime Museum. There is also a section of the wall from Enkhuysen Bastion to Dan Briel Bastion that still exists. A section of the rampart wall, the bastion Dan Briel, a modest bastion located between the Enkhuysen and the Battenburg Batteries, as well as a postern gate, known as the Slave Port, still exist within the grounds of SLNS Parakrama.
The fort area is a mixture of buildings from many eras of the cities past. The most notable of residences of the fort is the President's House, official residence of the President of Sri Lanka, next to the Gordon Gardens which was once open to the public is now part of the President's House. The residence traces it origins to the Dutch period when it was the residence of the Dutch Governor and later the British Governor. Hence it was known till 1972 as Queen's House. The Presidential Secretariat housed in the Neo-baroque style Old Parliament Building. Several important government ministries are also located here, these include the Ministry of Finance housed in the General Treasury Building and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs housed in the Republic Building. SLNS Parakrama the Naval headquarters of the Sri Lanka Navy is located along Flagstaff Street. Along the Janadhipathi Mawatha (formerly Queens Street) is the location of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the old General Post Office. Apart from these the Central Telegraph Office, Police Headquarters, Colombo Metropolitan Police building, Sri Lanka Port Authority building, Times building and the Cargills & Millers building are located in the fort area.
Fort is home to the head offices of many banks and business, hence it is considered the financial district of Colombo. These banks include the Bank of Ceylon, HSBC, State Bank of India, Standard Chartered Bank, Seylan Bank, Sampath Bank, Hatton National Bank, People's Bank and the Commercial Bank. The World Trade Centre of Colombo is one of the tallest buildings in the city and is home to the Colombo Stock Exchange and many leading corporations. The head offices of the Sri Lanka Telecom and Ceylinco Consolidated are located here, at Ceylinco House. There are a number of hotels are also located in the area, including the Grand Oriental Hotel, Hilton Colombo, Colombo Intercontinental, Galadari Hotel and the Colombo City Hotel. Notable landmarks in the fort area are the Old Colombo Lighthouse, Colombo Lighthouse, St. Peter's Church, the Old Colombo Dutch Hospital and the Sambodhi Chaithya.
The northern part of the fort area makes up the southern parameter of the Colombo Harbour. Located in this part is the head office of the Sri Lanka Port Authority, Sri Lanka Customs, Bandaranayaka Quay and the Queen Elizabeth Quay.
Colombo is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka by population. According to the Brookings Institution, Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752,993 in the Municipality. It is the financial centre of the island and a tourist destination. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to the Greater Colombo area which includes Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of Sri Lanka and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. Colombo is often referred to as the capital since Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is itself within the urban/suburban area of Colombo. It is also the administrative capital of the Western Province and the district capital of Colombo District. Colombo is a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern life, colonial buildings and monuments.
Galle is a major city in Sri Lanka, situated on the southwestern tip, 119 kilometres (74 mi) from Colombo. Galle is the provincial capital and largest city of Southern Province, Sri Lanka and is the capital of Galle District.
Unawatuna is a coastal town in Galle district of Sri Lanka. Unawatuna is a major tourist attraction in Sri Lanka and known for its beach and corals. It is a suburb of Galle, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) southeast to the city center and approximately 108 kilometres (67 mi) south of Colombo. Unawatuna is situated at an elevation of 5 metres (16 ft) above the sea level. Despite significant development in the last decade it is still home to the endangered and endemic purple-faced langur, an usually shy monkey species that can only be found in Sri Lanka's forests.
The National Maritime Museum in Galle, Sri Lanka is situated within Galle Fort. It was first opened to the public on 9 May 1992 and is located in a 1671 Dutch Warehouse above the Old Gate of Galle Fort. Whilst the building housing the museum survived the impact of the 26 December 2004 tsunami, the adjoining UNESCO Maritime Archaeology Unit was completely destroyed and all the exhibitions were flood damaged and the majority of maritime archeological artifacts were lost. Under Sri Lanka – Netherlands Cultural Co-operation Program, the Royal Government of Netherlands provided financial assistance for reconstruction of the Maritime Museum. After 3 years period of reconstruction, the Maritime Museum was re-opened to the public.
Matara is a major city in Sri Lanka, on the southern coast of Southern Province. It is the second largest city in Southern Province. It is 160 km (99 mi) from Colombo. It is a major commercial hub, and it is the administrative capital and largest city of Matara District.
Sri Lankan place name etymology is characterized by the linguistic and ethnic diversity of the island of Sri Lanka through the ages and the position of the country in the centre of ancient and medieval sea trade routes. While typical Sri Lankan placenames of Sinhalese origin vastly dominate, toponyms which stem from Tamil, Dutch, English, Portuguese and Arabic also exist. In the past, the many composite or hybrid place names and the juxtaposition of Sinhala and Tamil placenames reflected the coexistence of people of both language groups. Today, however, toponyms and their etymologies are a source of heated political debate in the country as part of the political struggles between the majority Sinhalese and minority Sri Lankan Tamils.
Galle Face is a 5 ha ocean-side urban park, which stretches for 500 m (1,600 ft) along the coast, in the heart of Colombo, the financial and business capital of Sri Lanka. The promenade was initially laid out in 1859 by Governor Sir Henry George Ward, although the original Galle Face Green extended over a much larger area than is seen today. The Galle Face Green was initially used for horse racing and as a golf course, but was also used for cricket, polo, football, tennis and rugby.
President's House is the official residence and workplace of the President of Sri Lanka, located at Janadhipathi Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Since 1804 it has been the residence of British governors and governors-general and Sri Lankan presidents, having been known as the "King's House" or the "Queen's House" until Sri Lanka became a republic in 1972.
Old Colombo Lighthouse or Colombo Fort Clock Tower is a clock tower and was a lighthouse in Colombo. The lighthouse is no longer operational, but the tower remains and functions as a clock tower. It is located at the junction of Chatham Street and Janadhipathi Mawatha in Colombo fort.
Colombo Lighthouse is a Lighthouse in Colombo in Sri Lanka and it is operated and maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. It is located at Galbokka Point south of the Port of Colombo on the waterfront along the marine drive, in Colombo fort.
The Galle Lighthouse is an onshore Lighthouse in Galle, Sri Lanka and is operated and maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. This is Sri Lanka's oldest light station.
Forts and fortifications in Sri Lanka date back thousands of years with many being built by Sri Lankan Kings, these include several walled cities. With the out set of colonial rule in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka was occupied by several major colonial empires that from time-to-time became the dominant power in the Indian Ocean. The colonists built several western styled forts, mostly in and round the coast of the island. The first to build colonial forts in Sri Lanka were the Portuguese, these forts were captured and later expanded by the Dutch. The British occupied these Dutch forts during the Napoleonic wars.
The former Colombo General Post Office, at 17 Janadhipathi Mawatha, Colombo Fort, was the headquarters of the Sri Lanka Post and the office of the Postmaster General for over one hundred years, from 1895 until 2000.
Galle Fort, in the Bay of Galle on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. It is a historical, archaeological and architectural heritage monument, which even after more than 432 years maintains a polished appearance, due to extensive reconstruction work done by Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka.
The Siege of the Portuguese fort Santa Cruz de Gale at Galle in 1640, took place during the Dutch–Portuguese and Sinhalese–Portuguese Wars. The Galle fort commanded 282 villages, which contained most fertile cinnamon lands in southern Sri Lanka It was also an important strategic coastal defense of Portuguese Ceylon. The Dutch, who were in an alliance with the Kingdom of Kandy, landed an expeditionary force under Commodore Willem Jacobszoon Coster of Akersloot, at the Bay of Galle, on 8 March 1640. After bombarding the fort for four consecutive days, Dutch troops stormed the fort and secured a victory on 13 March 1640. The Portuguese garrison, led by Captain Lourenço Ferreira de Brito, mounted a stiff resistance and unexpectedly high casualty rates among Dutch troops gave rise to the proverb “Gold in Malacca, lead in Galle”. With this victory the Dutch gained access to a large port which they later used as a convenient naval base to attack Goa and other South Indian Portuguese defenses. They also gained access to the Sri Lankan cinnamon trade and gained a permanent foothold on the island.
The Matara Fort was built in 1560 by the Portuguese and was substantially re-built by the Dutch in 1640, following the capture of Galle. The fort, which consists of a large stone rampart, occupies the promontory, which separates the Niwala Ganga (River) lagoon and the ocean.
Kalpitiya Fort was built by the Dutch between 1667 and 1676. Kalpitiya was important as it commands the entrance to the adjacent bay, Puttalam Lagoon. The surrounding Puttalam area was one of the major cinnamon cultivation areas in Sri Lanka. The Dutch even constructed a canal from Puttalam via Negombo to Colombo to transport cinnamon from the area.
Negombo Fort was a small but important fort in Negombo, approx. 30 km (19 mi) north of Colombo, that was built by the Portuguese to defend Colombo.
Kalutara fort was built by the Portuguese in 1622. It was located in Kalutara, Sri Lanka.
The Gaffoor Building is a prominent four-storey wedge-shaped building located on the corner Sir Baron Jayatilaka Mawatha and Leyden Bastian Street, Colombo Fort.