A pretty metropolis sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it
is a description that fits Colombo, Sri Lanka's largest city, a
beehive of commotion with more than a million inhabitants.
Frenetic traffic fills the main Galle Road that runs through the
city from the district of Fort, parallel with the coast, connecting
all the suburban enclaves down to the town of Galle in the south.
Fort is the historic centre of the city that has become the main
business district, filled with shops, office blocks and government
buildings. It is here that most of the gracious old buildings from
the Dutch, Portuguese and British colonial eras are to be seen.
East of Fort is the exciting Pettah bazaar district, where the
streets are crammed with shops and stalls selling all manner of
goods from vegetables to gemstones. Further south the city's
seafront is known as Galle Face Green, where locals enjoy games of
cricket, fly kites or take evening strolls watching the sunset.
Beyond this lies Colombo's smart neighbourhood, Cinammon Gardens,
boasting elegant mansions, tree-lined streets and the lovely
Viharamaha Devi Park. The closest beach resort to the city is Mount
Lavinia, about six miles (10km) from the city.
Main tourist attractions include museums, historic buildings and
churches, and beautiful parks. What is especially enjoyable is the
variety of cuisine that can be sampled at any one of the city's
plentiful bars, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and kiosks.