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Colombo’s Backstreets


Just east of Galle Face Green is yet another vestige of Colombo’s colonial past, a place that has lived many lives - a former slave prison, military station and now a botanical garden. Called the Slave Island, this place was once the port where the Dutch and Portuguese brought African slaves. Though the slaves were released long ago, and the island is now a commercial thoroughfare, the island is still awash with the remnants of the past. Explore this historic district with your host understanding the history of the place, absorbing the traditional vibe and learning about the journey of the island to its current state.

Why you will love it!

  • A trip into the backstreets of historic ‘Slave Island’
  • Begin at celebrated Galle Face and end at Beira Lake by Gangaramaya Temple
  • Walk eclectic streets influenced by multi-ethnic population

What you will experience

Explore the history of the Slave Island, once a port where the Dutch and Portuguese brought African slaves, as you walk through its jumbled streets. The Slave Island, a name provided by the British during Colonisation, is home to people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including Moors, Malays and Burghers, reflecting the cultural diversity of Sri Lanka. This now multicultural hotspot and a busy commercial district overlooks the recently replenished Beira Lake and was once surrounded by crocodile-filled canals that gave the impression of an island.

Start the tour with your host at the iconic Galle Fort Hotel. Walkthrough the busy streets soaking in the history and culture of the place while your host fills you in with stories that underpin Slave Island. Explore the heart of the Island through an assorted cityscape and some of the most historic mosques and churches in the area. Discover an English railway station, houses with Persian and Dutch architecture, an iconic mosque and a Hindu temple, located on a road named after Kew Gardens in London. Beira Lake, just next to Gangaramaya Temple, is the last stop of this exhilarating and insightful tour bringing an end to Slave Island’s captivating chronicles to life.

On Request | 2 hours | History Tours

Colombo,Sri Lanka

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