This cosmopolitan capital is the perfect introduction to contemporary Sri Lanka whilst also offering a glimpse of times gone by. Whilst not the most picturesque city, Colombo’s coastal location and brash, quirky character make it a delight to explore – from the bustling bazaars and the chic new eateries, galleries and museums of the old quarters to the shady boulevards that are left over from the days of colonial rule.
Ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, Sri Lanka is bound to have a treasure trove of colonial architecture, and Colombo does! The old Fort area, now the city’s CBD, was the centre of administration for both the Dutch and English – many of the grand old buildings are used by the present day government but are easily admired as you wander past. The Old Dutch Hospital is an early 17th century complex beautifully restored and today full of shops, cafes and restaurants whilst just two kilometres away you’ll find the 1749 Wolvendaal Church.
The National Museum is packed with artefacts of ancient Ceylon, giving a fascinating glimpse into Sri Lanka’s eventful past – look out for the throne and crown of the Kandyan monarchs. Housed in 17th century Dutch residence, the Dutch Period Museum houses lovely Dutch colonial furniture whilst in the Traditional Puppet Art Museum, a traditional entertainment in Sri Lanka villages you’ll find a number of beautifully decorated puppets on display. For contemporary Sri Lanka art, head for the Saskia Fernando Gallery.
As cosmopolitan as Colombo may be becoming, there is still a taste of a bustling and vibrant past amongst the streets of the bazaar district of Pettah. This neighbourhood is much more Tamil and Muslim to the rest of the city, giving it a different flavour and a much more colourful place to explore. Set out in a typical bazaar layout, each street is dedicated to a different trade – inbetween stalls and shops you’ll find old mosques, Hindu temples and churches. Head to the markets to admire teetering piles of Sri Lanka’s luscious produce.
This grand hotel, located in Colombo's city centre, boasts luxury, comfort and style. Elegantly designed throughout and with an excellent range of facilities, including pools , a spa and gym, you also have a choice of 13 drinks and dining outlets serving a range of cuisines - perfect after a day of exploring.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.