Grand Oriental Hotel
Located opposite the Port of Colombo, this landmark was originally built in 1837 as an army barracks before being converted into the Grand Oriental Hotel in 1875. It was once one of the finest hotels in the city, and accommodated passengers who arrived in Sri Lanka by ocean liner. Anton Chekhov was a guest at the hotel in 1890. According to some sources, his short story Gusev was penned during his stay here. Although no longer attracting film stars or royalty and lacking most of its former colonial elegance, the hotel retains its imposing façade. Don’t miss the view of the port from windows of the fourth floor Harbor Room restaurant.
Old Town Hall
Dominating the area known as Kayman’s Gate is the Moorish-style Old town Hall, which was built in 1873. The two-strorey building served as the premises of the Colombo Municipal Council for 65 years, after which it fell into disrepair and was used as a public market. In 1984, the building was restored and reopened as a municipal museum that is now largely defunct. Today, it is possible to climb the stairs to the second floor to see a reconstruction of a council meeting, with wax figures seated around a table. The western side of the building is lined by some picturesque fruit and vegetable stalls.
The adjoining wrought-iron market building houses industrial and municipal artifacts, including the first mobile library in Sri Lanka, a streamroller and old street signage. more