SRI LANKA – The fortified city of Galle and the city founded by the Portuguese – Part III

After a few days in the jungle living to the fullest and desperately trying to see leopards, it was time to head to Galle!

The city of Galle and its fortifications are the most vivid proof of the Dutch occupation. The Fort, built in 1663, still has the grandeur of other times. The solid walls along Galle make you travel back in time. The oldest part of the city is surrounded by the walls, where you can get lost and discover typical Dutch houses, little shops, cafes and restaurants, and several museums and churches.

Take your time, and enjoy this piece of history and architecture!

After a beautiful day in Galle, we headed towards the only days of total rest at the new Cinnamon Bentota Beach. A little paradise right on top of Bentota Beach, known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. This hotel had just opened, and some work was still ongoing. It’s a beautiful place but with those flaws typical of those just starting out! We had a series of incidents, but they were overcome by the genuine friendliness of the staff.

Bentota Beach

We know that the hotel was closed after the pandemic and is now starting to try to find its place. To understand the authenticity of the staff, during the quarantine, we received messages from the hotel manager asking how we were doing and how things were in our country.

In fact, at one point, we had a whole afternoon talking to the manager during our stay, and we ended up telling him that we write about hotels and in a very relaxed but sincere way, we told him all the handicaps they were committing and what to do to improve!

The hotel is impressive and has everything to become a reference in the country.

After a few days of relaxation, it was time to end our trip to the country’s most important city – Colombo!

In reality, we sacrificed Colombo for the sake of the other sites during this trip. We spent just one day in the city with a specific objective: to have lunch at Ministry of Crab – but João tells you more about that here!

We just took the opportunity to walk through the chaotic streets and get a small glimpse of the madness in this city.

We were also lucky to have Parveen with us, who gave us a guided tour by car of the most important places to let us with a more accurate idea about the city.
Colombo is the country’s commercial capital, and the political capital is Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte

The red Mosque, also known as Jami ul-Alfar Mosque

But, if you can, avoid making the same mistake as us and explore the city! This port city has much to offer and shows a lot of local culture in its markets and architecture, whose influence goes back to a true crossroads of different cultures.

The heart of ancient Colombo is the Fort, built by us! We arrived in Sri Lanka in 1505 and made a treaty with the King of Kotte to trade cinnamon (this spice has always been of extreme importance; hence the name cinnamon is everywhere in the country!).

Of course, once we were allowed to stay in the city, it was only a matter of time before we drove out the locals and managed to take over the kingdom. To this day, that part of the city started by Portuguese hands is known as Fort.

Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace and many of the city’s hotels are located in this area, which was heavily affected by the Civil War and remains heavily policed today.

Although I haven’t been able to visit yet, from my research and what Parveen has shown us, there are certain places in Colombo that are highly recommended to visit:

Clocktower Lighthouse – from 1987 it was intended to be the highest point in the city.
Old Galle Buch Lighthouse – from 1954 that has a naval base.
Dutch Hospital – former hospital but now full of bars and restaurants
Sri Kailawasanathar Swami Devasthanam – beautiful Hindu temple.

Acabamos por passear bastante a pé pela área de Pettah, que fica fora do Forte, com as suas ruelas e mais ruelas de tudo o que é local e artesanal, o caos completo! Aqui ainda tentamos visitar a Mesquita Jami ul-Alfar, mas estava encerrada, pelo que pudemos apenas vislumbrar a sua fachada vermelha e branca.
Para quem quiser explorar os templos, tem também:
Templo Budista de Gangaramaya – um dos mais antigos da cidade.
Templo Seema Malaka – no lago Beira já do século XX, do renomado arquiteto Geoffrey Bawa.
Templo de Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara – templo mais importante de Colombo.

We spent some time walking around the Pettah area, which is located outside the Fort. It was a maze of local and artisanal shops, with alleys leading to more alleys. Despite the chaos, we attempted to visit the Jami ul-Alfar Mosque, but unfortunately, it was closed. We only got a glimpse of its impressive red and white facade. For those interested in exploring temples, there are several options, including:

Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple – one of the oldest in the city;
Seema Malaka Temple – located on Lake Beira, designed by renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa in the 20th century.
Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Temple – considered the most important temple in Colombo.

Also unmissable:
Independence Memorial – built in 1948 when Sri Lanka gained independence from England.
Vihara Mahadevi Gardens – with its Buddhist statue in front of the Town Hall building and the National Museum.
The city deserves two days! But with a shorter journey, options had to be made!

Now we can only go back to Sri Lanka to do everything that remains to be done!
When we left the country, we didn’t know that this would be our last trip for a long time, nor did we know that we had to keep this trip very well in our minds because it would be the last one before what came to change our world for the longest time. More Than we would imagine!

We are grateful for Sri Lanka’s warm hospitality.

We promise to come back!

Versão Portuguesa

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