RATNAPURA FORT

Adjacent to the Ratnapura clock tower that celebrated its centenary in 2018, to one side, is found the remains of a Dutch Fort, that was mainly used as a strategic outpost, given its high elevation, on a hill that dominates the area.

The Portuguese had established a fort and a church circa 1620 at the location of the present Maha Saman Devalaya nearby, however it was later destroyed by Kirti Sri Raja Singha (the second Nayaka king of Kandy) who established a deity shrine there.

In that shrine grounds there is a stone sculpture, which depicts the Portuguese General, Simao Pinnao, on horseback brandishing a sword, whilst trampling a Sinhalese soldier.

By 1658, the Dutch had taken control over all Portuguese assets. The Dutch initially used the site of the Portuguese fort but subsequently built a new fort on a hill in the middle of Ratnapura town.

A smart, flight of long stone stairs, lead up to the entrance (a former side entrance) with visitors being greeted by an arch with the inscription ‘GR 1817.’

It was in 1817 that the Fort was overtaken by the British and after independence, local administrative offices occupied this premises as they do, to date.

Beside the arch, an example of the fortified Fort wall can be seen. Today, the Fort is utilized by the state for various offices, including the Police Station, old District Secretariat (kachcheri) and Public Library.

The National Gem and Jewellery Authority also has an office here, along with the private Minipura Gem Museum. Other than the entrance arch and the ruins of the Fort wall, there is little else to see here.

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