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In the search of forts around the island…

Written by
Swetha Rathnajothiee

A rising of the richness of history within Sri Lanka’s magnificent fortresses.

A true experience of Sri Lanka cannot be complete without a visit to some of the great forts, which date back to thousands of years. Sri Lanka was occupied by colonial empires of the Dutch, Portuguese and the British; these colonists as well as the past Kings of the island left behind many western styled forts, of amazing architecture.

The Kalpitiya Fort stands at the entry point to the Puttalam lagoon. With only a single arch entrance it can be seen as square in shape, with massive walls made out of coral and limestone. Within the fort, the walls of a chapel, dining hall and prison can be seen as well as the remnants of two wells.

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Galle Fort, recognised as a World Heritage site, the beauty in architecture and history is preserved. You can spend an entire day exploring the area within; activities are in abundance such as shopping, dining, exploring the history or watching the sunset at the wall.

The Matara fort protects the the old town of Matara with its thick granite and limestone walls. The Old Dutch Church with tombstones dating back to 1686 AD are fascinating.

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With a unique shape of a six pointed star, a visit to the Star Fort and its museum can bring back the ancient glory of the Dutch colonial era. The arch of the main entrance has an embossment of the VOC and the coat of arms of Governor Van Eck.

Fort Frederick is used today by the Sri Lankan military, but exploring the fort brings to your view assorted cannons and artillery as well as the grand Wellesley House.

The Batticaloa Fort with its square shape and four prominent bastions is the smallest Dutch fort found on the island, whereas the Hammenhiel Fort was said to have nine large dungeons built to detain prisoners.

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The second largest fort remains to be the Jaffna Fort with a pentagon shape overlooking the lagoon. There is also a star shaped moat and even the remnants of a Hangman’s Tower.

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Make sure to visit at least a couple of these fortresses on your tour around the island. With their visionary architecture, it is truly remarkable to see these magnificent structures stand the test of time and exist today to give us a glimpse into the history of Sri Lanka.

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