Martello Tower at Hambantota

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A legacy of our colonial past

The immediate action of the colonial rulers who conquered the maritime provinces of Sri Lanka then Ceylon, was to take measures to ensure their secured power. They followed various kinds of tactics to defend their power and set up fortresses and defense towers where there were major threats to their domination.

The historical fortresses at Galle and Matara depict their architectural competence and defense expertise.

Though the Martello Tower at Hambantota is not spread over a large area, it could also be considered a defense watchtower. Visitors to this historical seaport town of Hambantota through the western gateway, will not fail to see from afar, adjoining the sentinel-like lighthouse the prominent historical landmark the Martello Tower at the tip of the seaside promontory.

This defense watchtower is a relic of the colonial era, believed to be a Dutch fortification, but in fact built by Capt. Goper of the Army Engineers during the British Period.

The Martello Tower (from Martello in Corsica, where a fortification of this kind made a strong resistance to an English naval force in 1794) is a small circular-shaped fort, with thick walls, and embrasure look-outs atop, and armory and living space in the covered room below. The building consists of three stories.

Anyone looking at the sea from the top of the Martello Tower could see as far as 25 miles of the Indian Ocean. This is the only one of this kind in Sri Lanka and one of the few in the world. Visitors to Europe would come across only a few in countries such as France and Germany, while others have been destroyed by war or the ravages of time.

On the initiative of then Minister of Fisheries and the present Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, this historical landmark was converted into a fisheries museum in the year 1999 as a measure to conserve this colonial landmark. After a couple of years owing to a lack of proper maintenance and care, this relic of the colonial era was neglected and is now in a deplorable condition.

The Martello Tower is the foremost archaeological site situated in the Hambantota Kachcheri premises. Since the Martello Tower at Hambantota is a legacy of our colonial history, authorities must take necessary steps to protect and preserve it for posterity.

By  M. R. M. Niyas, Hambantota Special Correspondent
Daily News

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Map of  Martello Tower at Hambantota

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Driving Directions to Martello Tower at Hambantota

Route from Colombo to Martello Tower at Hambantota Route from Colombo to Martello Tower at Hambantota
Through : Panadura – Ratnapura – Embilipitiya
Distance : 220 km
Travel time : 5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
 Though : Matara – Tangalle
Distance : 250 km
Travel time : 5 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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