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Architecture of Sri Lanka

Early Sri Lankan architecture is limited to cave temples and Buddhism stupas. These buildings, which were built in about the 100s BC-100s AD eventually turned into full housing an temples carved from the stone caves as doors and windows were added. Among the best of these early temples are those of Mihintale and Dambulla.

The second significant movement from the time is the stupa (or known as a dagoba in Sri Lanka). These deserve particular mention since the stupas in Sri Lanka were oddly large, although many are unfinished or have since fallen apart. Demala Maha Seya stupa, Jetavanaramaya stupa (200s AD), and Abhayagiri stupa (100s BC) are all amongst the largest of these massive structures, the first two of which are larger than two of the three Great Pyramids of Giza.

In the 1500s the Europeans arrived to Sri Lanka and brought with them their architectural styles. The Dutch had the greatest influence architecturally, with the greatest examples from their time being the town of Galle (1663), although most churches throughout the country are also European-influenced. The British also made a splash with the Colombo Fort and the Old Parliament Building (today the Presidential Secretariat).

Since independence, a number of movements have arrived, including the internationally popular modernism and post-modernism, with a number of modern buildings in the country today, most notably in the capital city of Colombo. However a greater influence, a part of a sub-movement called "Topical Modernism", was Geoffrey Bawa. Bawa dominated the architecture of the country from the 1960s-1980s, including the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre (2011) in Colombo.

This page was last updated: July, 2012