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Why Old Town Hall is special ?
Designed by J.G. Smither, an architect in the Public Works Department during the British rule in Sri Lanka, the Old Town Hall was opened in 1873.
The building was established as the office and chambers of the Colombo Municipal Council and also functioned as a courthouse. Tourists flock to the Old Town Hall to admire the architecture and to glean some history of Colombo from the erstwhile Town Hall. The Old Town Hall also houses a museum that has on exhibit regalia from the old municipal boards of Colombo.
What to explore at Old Town Hall?
The building it self is a main highlight, which has stood there for over 140 years now, however, to the right of the main building is a shed like area which houses some excellent old infrastructure building machinery, which were used during the colonial period, as well as some service vehicles, such as Sri Lanka's first mobile library van, first garbage collection truck, and steam rollers that were used to pave the roads of Colombo. Below are some pictures of these.
The building it self has some excellent late 1800s wood work, beautiful wooden ceilings and window frames. There are also some panes of stained glass.
Most of the wood work were done using imported Teak wood from Burma, and were locally crafted. The building it self somewhat from the exterior looks much like a church.
How to get to Old Town Hall?
The easiest way to get there is by tuk tuk or taxi, alternatively you can walk from any one of the hotels in the Galle Face, Fort areas (30-40min). The markets of pettha can get very busy, and there a little or no pavements in some of the side roads, but this all adds to the experience.
- Photo Opportunity
- A quirky experience
- Go see this with Colombo City Walks
- Super Architecture
- Really a wonderful building
Fort, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Tips for you
After reading that it was worth a visit I was more than happy when the opportunity presented itself for us to drop in. If you didn't know it was there you would probably pass this magnificent old building without noticing it. Make sure you wander upstairs and get the caretaker to show you around - his English isn't great but he will enthusiastically show you many of the interesting quirky facets of the city's original council chambers - check the windows, you'll not only get a great view but you'll appreciate the ingenuity of their design. As previously indicated entry is free but you can't help but give the caretaker a tip. Downstairs beneath the building in the open air area is this eclectic collection of municipal objects from mayoral robes to an intricate model of the new town hall to street signs through to a stream powered truck. It's free so there's no need to pay any of the women sweeping or hanging around the displays.