Star Fort of Matara (මාතර තාරකා කොටුව)

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Matara is located close to the southern point of Sri Lanka and is about 170 kilometres away from Colombo. Matara has a history going back over 2,000 years. Still, the modern Matara became an important city only during the Dutch occupation as it was used as a main port to export cinnamon and elephants by the colonial masters.

The Dutch completed the main Matara Fort around 1640 but found it to be vulnerable to attacks coming from land during the Matara Rebellion when the Singhalese forces backed by the Kandyan Kingdom took hold of the fort in 1762. The Dutch managed to take back the fort and built another on the west bank of the Nilwala River to protect the main fort from attacks originating from the river.

This Star Fort was built to the unique shape of a six-pointed star with space for 12 large cannons to cover approaches from all directions. The fort was surrounded by a deep moat and was built to hold a small garrison, food supplies, and enough ammunition. It also had two prison cells and a well in the centre to supply water. On the arch of the main entrance the year 1765 is embossed (year of construction) along with the VOC emblem and the coat of arms of Governor Van Eck.

This is said to be the last major defense post built by the Dutch and was never had the chance to prove its effectiveness. The fort was handed over by the Dutch to the British with the surrender of the Sri Lankan territory. The British used it as a residence for government officials and as a library until recently. Currently, it houses a museum and the fort has been restored to a great extent to show its ancient glory.

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Map of Star Fort of Matara

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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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Travel Directions to Matara Star Fort

Route from Colombo Route from Galle
Though : kalutara – galle – Matara
Distance :165 km
Travel time : 3 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Distance : 45 km
Travel time : 50 mins
Driving Directions : see on Google map


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