Province : Western
District : Gampaha
Popular for : Beach
Weather : 31 °C
NEGOMBO 40 KM (25 Miles) From Colombo
Nicknamed “Little Rome” because of its numerous Catholic churches – a survival from the period of Portuguese rule – Negambo surrounds a lagoon which is rich in fish and until the advent of tourism provides a ready market for the lagoon’s prawns and lobsters, and for deep water fish like tuna, shark and amberjack, but the picturesque twin-hulled sailing canoes are slowly being ousted by modern wooden or plastic-hulled, motor-driven boats.
Even though it could never strive in a beauty contest against many Sri Lankan beaches, Negombo's beach, which gives north from the town right along the hotel strip before fading into a palm-tree distance, is pleasant enough and makes for a good sunset stroll. The Muthurajawela Marsh off Negombo lagoon just south of the town is a unique wetland habitat and the largest marsh in Sri Lanka popular with eco enthusiasts.
Commanding the entrance to the lagoon, the ruined Dutch fort dates from 1678, according to the date emblazoned above its stone gateway. It was built some 34 years after the Dutch wrested Sri Lanka from Portugal, and defended the natural harbor from which the Dutch East India Company exported cinnamon and other spices, which were the island’s most valuable exports. Next to the walls is a Dutch cemetery. Open during daylight hours.
The Dutch Canal was built by the Dutch to transport spices from here and now used by local fisherman to get to the sea. Today Dutch Canal is an attraction for tourists and one of the more interesting chances to see the city and the surrounding area.
St Mary’s Church
This is the most attractive of the towns many Catholic churches and chapels, and is a testimony to the enthusiasms with which the local Karava people adopted Catholicism under Portuguese tutelage. The painted ceiling is well worth a look. It is open during the usual church hours.