A busy commercial town, Matara is major transport hub with a railway terminal and a bus station. Not many tourists stop here and those who do usually stay in the nearby suburb of Polhena to the south. However, Matara has a rich history and there are some atmospheric sights to explore.
The Nilwala Ganga divides Matara into two parts, namely the Old Dutch Town and the New Town. The Old town lies to the south of the river and is home to a fort built by the Dutch in the 18th century. It eastern side is bound by ramparts that encompass a gateway dated 1780, there is also British clock tower, which was added later. The streets behind the ramparts hide dilapidated yet imposing Colonial buildings. There is well-maintained Dutch Reformed Church here, with tombstones paving the floor. North of the river, the new Town boasts the hexagonal star Fort. It was built by the Dutch in 1763, and is believed to have been erected to defend the main fort area after a Sinhalese rebellion in 1760. The structure has now been restored and houses a small museum.
Matara’s seafront is pleasant despite the busy main road situated behind it. Additionally, the suburb of Polhena offers snorkeling as well as year-round swimming. Note that the area is often busy with locals at weekends and holidays. more