Star Fort of Matara – මාතර තාරකා කොටුව

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Arial view of star fort of Matara
Arial view of star fort of Matara

Matara is located close to the most southern point of Sri Lanka and its about 170 kilometres away from Colombo. Matara has a history going back over 2000 years but the modern Matara becomes an important city only during the Dutch occupation as it was used as a main port for the exportation of cinnamon and elephants.

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

This Star Fort was built to an unique shape of an six pointed star with space for 12 large cannons to cover approaches from all directions. The fort was surrounded by an deep moat and was built to hold a small garrison, food supplies and enough ammunition. It also had a 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 defence post built by the Dutch and was never had the chance to prove its effectiveness. The fort was handed over to the British with the surrender of the Sri Lankan territory by them. 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.

Map of Star Fort of Matara
Map of Star Fort of Matara
Source : Illustrations and views of Dutch Ceylon, 1602-1796 by By Rajpal Kumar De Silva, Willemina G. M. Beumer

Also See

Map of Star Fort of Matara

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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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