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Sri Lanka Tourism - Colonial Heritage

Sri Lanka Tourism - Colonial Heritage

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Published by rockstarlk

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Published by: rockstarlk on May 05, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Colonial Heritage
Sri Lanka Tourism
80 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka 
+94 11 243 7059/60
+94 11 244 0001
Sri Lanka
A land like no other
It is possible to experience severalcountries in a day without leaving Sri Lankan shores, as you explorethe remnants of the island’s colonial era.How about a thoroughly English afternoontea 
 with fresh scones and jam after a stroll in the rose garden, just the thing to set you up for a game of cricket? Maybeyou’d prefer to hunt for antique porcelain and hanging Dutchoil lamps, or to wander through the remains of old Portuguesefortifications in the hope of uncovering a few stray coinshidden between the flagstones.The first Europeans arrived in the early 16th century, attracted by the island’s spicesand gemstones. The
establisheda number of coastal trading settlements,converted some of the Sinhalese aristocracy to Catholicism, and built fortresses to protecttheir ports.Few traces of the Portuguese remain, theirfortifications absorbed into fortresses later builtby the Dutch. However, the Catholic faith stillremains strong, and a number of Portuguese words havebeen absorbed into local languages. Even more striking isthe use of Portuguese names such as de Silva, Fernando andPereira among many Sinhalese, even after they abandonedthe religious faith that once came with such names.
of the Past
When the Dutch received the monopoly of the spice trade in return for getting rid of the Portuguese in the mid-17th century, theyrenamed the island Zeilan
.Reminders of the Dutch can be seen in 300 year-oldforts along the coast, in the churches, fortsand homes of Galle, a remarkably preserved UNESCO WorldHeritage Site built entirely  within walls and ramparts, andin the magnificent publicbuildings, churches and privatehouses in many coastal areas of Sri Lanka.In a narrow street in the heart of Colombo’s seething bazaar of Pettah,sits an imposing white-washedmansion, its terracotta-tiled roof heldup by eight massive unadorned pillars. Built in 1780 as theresidence of the Dutch governor, this is now home to the
Dutch Period Museum
. The heavy wooden furniture,cabinets of household items,hanging oil lamps and four-poster beds are somewhatsober in style.However, colonial furniturechanged over the years aslocal carpenters copied theoriginal furniture broughtby the Dutch, using local woods. Their lightertouch anddifferent taste transformed the furniture from oftenclumsy items into furniture of beauty and charm, stilleagerly sought after in the antique stores of Colomboand along the west coast.The Dutch left more behind than just furniture. In upmarketantique shops in Colombo, in crowded, dusty treasurehouses along the west coast and in Galle, a host of Dutchhomewares await discovery. Porcelain tableware, cutlery,glassware, hanging glass oil lamps, candelabra and stoneware water filters are easily found, and who knows what othertreasures lie beneath that pile of bric-a-brac.

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