- Published on Sunday, 04 December 2011 22:53
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Yet another milestone in tourism development is announced shortly after witnessing the record 750,000th tourist into the island. An effort of Tourism Development Authority and Urban development Authority has resulted in much awaited launch of the former Dutch Hospital of Colombo Fort as a Shopping Precinct, which has become the latest tourist attraction in the city. The opening ceremony was held on on 2nd December 2011 graced by the Minister of Economic Development Hon Basil Rajapaksa and Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Mr. Gotabhaya ajapaksa.
This property was initially taken over and developed by the Tourism Authorities with a view to converting it into a tourist attraction while retaining its original Dutch architecture. Later, the Urban
Development Authority under the direction of Defence Secretary took expeditious steps to complete the renovation to make it a centre for tourists.
As per records, the hospital was built during the rule of the Dutch from 1656 to 1796. A Dutch map drawn in 1732 shows the hospital at its present site. However, the hospital had existed since 1681 according to a description by Christopher Schweitzer, a German national who was
in Sri Lanka serving the Dutch from 1676 to 1682.
During the colonial era, the Dutch hospital was established to cater to medical requirements of the staff of the Dutch East India Company. It was located close to the harbor as it was convenient to transport patients from the ships.
During the renovation process of the building, special attention was paid not to change the original structure of the building while it was modernized with state-of-the-art facilities. The shopping precinct which consists of 12 stalls including a restaurant, jewelers, textile and handicraft stalls, will be opened as a high end tourist centre
This would be a unique centre located surrounded by city hotels, dutch Architecture that was retained to be witnessed by visitors into Sri Lanka and a place to shop and dine, contributes to the efforts of authorities to make Colombo a vibrant city which is part of the Tourism Strategy developed under the guidance of Hon Basil Rajapaksa
Pix by Chaminda Hittatiya