The gardens, lawn and pillars of the local popular Nupe Market, a grand old historical Dutch colonial building and center of trade for centuries.

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Old Dutch Trade Centre


On the western side of town, this magnificent T-shaped building (once the town's market) will fascinate architectural buffs: it has an imposing, steeply pitched roof, three conical towers and a grand gabled entrance. It's open-sided and supported by colossal wooden beams and columns.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Matara attractions

1. Matara Fort

0.75 MILES

This historic, though run-down district, was once the heart of Dutch, and later British, Matara. There are no real sights, but it's an intriguing area…

2. Dutch Rampart

0.88 MILES

The smallish Dutch rampart occupies the promontory separating the Nilwala Ganga from the sea. Built in the 18th century to protect the VOC’s kachcheri …

3. Star Fort


This fort was built by the Dutch to compensate for deficiencies in the neighbouring rampart, but it’s so small it could only have protected a handful of…

4. Temple

0.97 MILES

This modest structure overlooks the river.

5. Polhena Beach

0.97 MILES

The best beach in the area is a small sandy cove that's sheltered by a reef offshore. There's good snorkelling in the bay, and though visibility is not…

6. Parey Dewa

1.04 MILES

A pedestrian bridge near the bus station leads to a small island, Parey Dewa (Rock in Water), which is home to a tiny Buddhist temple with a very fancy…

7. Weherahena Temple

2.78 MILES

On the east side of Matara, turn inland 1km off the main road for this gaudy temple that features an artificial cave decorated with about 200 cartoon-like…

8. Tenavaram Kovil

3.94 MILES

The original vast complex of Tenavaram Dondra was destroyed in 1587, and this compound is now the the largest temple in town. Sadly, a couple of (chained)…