Colombo’s colonial architectural legacy ‘a respite from cookie-cutter skyscrapers’

Roar Life reports that “Sri Lanka’s colonial history is not only written in books, but also in the country’s cityscapes. Among the many colonial legacies that we inherited, architecture is one to be particularly proud of.

“Especially in Colombo, the architecture styles of old are a welcome respite from cookie-cutter, glass-and-steel skyscrapers.”

Here the website documents some of Colombo’s best-known and most distinctive buildings, from hotels to churches and museums—and even an old clock tower, once a lighthouse.

The Galle Face Hotel (pictured above)

Arguably the most famous colonial structure in Sri Lanka, it has played host to an extensive list of global celebrities—Mahatma Gandhi, Yuri Gagarin, Jawaharlal Nehru, Noel Coward, and royalty from Denmark, Japan, and Britain are only some of the dignitaries that have walked these halls.

The Grand Oriental Hotel

This hotel began its life as a simple, single-storey building that opened on to the street, but a Dutch governor called it home for some time. It opened on November 5, 1875, with 154 luxury and semi-luxury rooms. To this day, the Grand Oriental’s bar has one of the best views of the Colombo Harbour.

The Colombo National Museum

The iconic National Museum may not have existed had it not been for the Royal Asiatic Society. They impressed the importance of a public museum on then governor William Gregory.

The Dutch Burgher Union

The DBU’s most prominent feature is the step-gabled ends of its two wings. This feature is common to many ancient buildings in the Netherlands that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

Old Dutch Hospital

The Dutch Hospital, thought to be the oldest building in Colombo, falls in line with 17th-century Dutch architecture. A 50 cm wall and thick teak beams make for a sturdy structure. The layout is designed in such a way as to keep out the heat and the humidity.

St. Lucia’s Cathedral

It is said that a small thatched hut was the first house of worship on the land that St. Lucia’s Cathedral now stands. It is considered the oldest and largest parish cathedral in Sri Lanka. The cathedral’s iconic neo-classical façade rests on massive ionic columns adorned with seven statues.

Cargills & Millers Building

The red Cargills & Millers building is a long-standing symbol of the Fort area. Its brick-red structure, constructed in classical European architectural styles, was once the residence of Captain Pieter Sluysken, the former Dutch military commander of Galle.

Old Town Hall

At the end of Main street in Pettah, this Venetian Gothic-style building could arguably be preserved better, you can still see the distinctive architecture. Although it used to be the Town Hall, the only thing remaining to indicate that is the creepy display of wooden dolls depicting a council meeting from 1906.

Colombo Fort Clock Tower

This iconic landmark is as centrally located as you can get. The clock tower is Kilometre Zero for Sri Lanka. All distances from Colombo are measured with the clock tower as the starting point. The tower originally also served as a lighthouse— its kerosene lantern was visible 17 miles out to sea.

Read more here.

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