Lanka 's commercial capital is an interesting blend of the
varying Influences, it has seen for more than 600 years. Its
importance as a trading port increased after the arrival of
the Portuguese to the Island in the early 16 th Century. It
continued to grow under the Dutch and British, and today
shows the marked influence of all those cultures from the
Islamic mosques, the Catholic, Dutch Reformed and Anglican
churches. The Dutch Colonial style of architecture is very
much in evidence, as are the special quarters for for
separate trades in the Colombo Fort and Pettah area.
While the Fort gets its name from the former military
garrison which was located here under the Dutch and British,
it is still the location of Janadhipathi Mandiraya, the
President's House. On its fringe is the beautiful sandstone
building, which houses the Presidential Secretariat and the
Government Secretariat, formally the Parliament, almost a
replica of Whitehall in England.
Green, the mile long promenade which borders the Fort on the
South, is the largest open air stretch in the city and is
lively centre for relaxation in the evening, with the
backdrop of a beautiful sunset. Around it are the main city
hotels, from the Galle Face Hotel which was established in
1864, the InterContinental which is the first modern
five-star facility, the Colombo Marriott and the Taj Samudra.
Nearby are the Colombo Hilton, the Hotel Lanka Oberoi and
the Holiday Inn.
still has great interest for shoppers with the many old
shops which specialize in gems, silks, curios, old stamps
and excellent leather goods. The Grand Oriental Hotel, by
the Colombo Harbour, gives one of the best views of the
harbour while lunching or dining at the Harbour Room, once
the special pub and restaurant of the ship's captain's who
called over at Colombo.
which was earlier on the outer fringe of the Fort, is still
the busiest shopping bazaar in the city. Its many criss-crossing
roads mark out sections which specializes in various trades
from textiles and sarees, spices and condiments, goldsmiths
and jewelers, wholesale dealers in rice, sugar, (lentils and
chillie. One of these streets – Gabo's Lane, still
specializes in the trade in ayurvedic herbal medicines,
which is the traditional form of medicines in Sri Lanka . In
recent years the shopping area in Colombo have stretched
southwards along Galle Road and R..A.de Mel Mawatha (
Duplication Road ) down through Kollupitiya, Bambalapitiya,
Wellawatte and Havelock Town.