As a former colony, Sri Lanka has witnessed and experienced both the positive and negative effects of colonisation. However, regardless of these effects, the influence each coloniser had over the architecture and social system of the inhabitants of the island was immense and can be seen to this day. The first colonial encounter can be traced back to 1505 when the Portuguese first arrived at the shores of the isle. The Portuguese were taken to the court of the King of the Kotte Kingdom at the time using a long route thus giving rise to a Sinhalese saying that is invoked every time someone takes a longer route than necessary. The Portuguese proceeded to rule the coastal belt of the island until 1796 when the Dutch defeated them and took control of the island.
However, their presence is felt even today in multiple locations of the country such as in Matara where any person staying in a southern resort such as Shinagawa Beach Balapitiya can easily access. The Matara Fort is the one place that this influence is heavily felt, and recorded. The city of Matara which is located in the South of the island can be accessed from Colombo via the Expressway. Therefore, even those residing in a Bentota hotel can reach the Fort with ease.
Though it is generally accepted that the Fort was built by the Portuguese, there is a sense of confusion regarding the exact dates, for the year inscribed is 1789 which was closer to when the Dutch took over control. However, it is considered that this could be the year it was repaired, and not constructed. In any case, the Fort has been possessed by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the Sri Lankan Army during various rebellions indicating the major role played by the Fort in the history of the island.
During these various occupations, the Fort has boasted of various roles ranging from a storage facility to a graveyard, and hosts old church, the courts complex and the police station.
Intrigued by history, art and food, Lavinia Woolf is a writer who is passionate about the extraordinary and writes of the exhilarating and enchanting. Google+