Calm sandy beaches immersed in the beauty of the blue sea and palm trees, countless number of hotels and resorts and streets stretched out with bars, restaurant and pubs is a cozy mixture of fun and relaxation. Located just 7km from the Bandaranaike International Airport, it is an ideal spot to start your holiday and head towards the cultural cities or have a relaxing end to an epic journey by the beach.
Translate to Sinhalese the name Negombo means ‘ MeeGamuwa” , The Village of Honey/Bees. This town thrives on tourism and produces cinnamon, ceramics and brassware. Negombo is renowned for its fresh seafood as it is one of the largest fishing villages in the island.
Heavily influenced by the colonial era, the Portuguese, Dutch and British ruled this town and used it as a main trading port at the time. The cinnamon plantations were revived by the Portuguese and thrived under the Dutch rule making Sri Lanka one of the best places in the world for cinnamon. The Dutch captured the town twice from the Portuguese in 1604 and 1644. In 1796 the town was grasped by the British. Currently majority of the population in Negombo is of the Catholic faith, which has earned the town the title “Little Rome”. Traveler and humanist Duke Luigi SilvestroCamerini created a Hydro Thermal Park in San Montano bay in Italy and named it “Negombo” because it reminded him of the exotic Negombo bay in Sri Lanka.
DUTCH FORT& CANALS
The year 1678 is inscribed on the gateway to the Dutch Fort which was captured by the Portuguese in 1644. The British took over the fort more than a century later and converted it into a prison, which it stands for up to date.
The Dutch peoples’ love for canals is evident in Negombo as long canals stretch out from here to south of Colombo and north of Puttalam. A scenic bicycle ride down the canals is recommended as humble villages smile at you along the way.
Rise up before sunrise around 4 am and visit the crazy flurry of boats reaching the lagoon as the fisherman haul in heavy nets and crates of freshest catch of the day. The sights, sounds and fumes at Negombo’sFish Market must be experienced to attain a true taste of the Sri Lankan fishing experience.
The Negombo lagoon houses one of the most bio diverse flora and fauna sanctuaries. The MuthurajawelaMarsh is said to be the islands largest peat bog which has nearly 200 species of flora, over 200 species of fauna and over 100 species of birds. Grab your camera and click away at water birds, endemic and migratory birds, water monitors, lizards, toque macaque monkeysand crocodiles. If you are lucky you may see the endangered Slender Loris.
The Roman Catholic influence in “Little Rome” is complimented with the grand churches spread across the town. St. Mary’s Church famous for its ceiling paintings by a local artist has a greater history. Nearly 130 years old it was the fourth church built by the Portuguese in the island.
Even though pre dominantly Roman Catholic the town has a blend of religions as mosques, temples and kovils.Angurukaramulla Temple which is East on the town in Buddhist shrine with a 6m long reclining Buddha. Grand mosques paint the town and Hindu Kovils such as Maria Amman and Pillayar are revered by ardent Hindus.