Independence Memorial Hall
On the 4th of February 1948, in Torrington Square, Sri Lanka’s first elected parliament – that was independent of British rule – was officially opened in a formal ceremony, restoring the country’s full autonomy to its people. The Independence Memorial Hall (also known as the Independence Commemoration Hall) was subsequently built as a national monument that would commemorate the island country gaining its freedom from the British, in the very location where the historic event occurred. The area around the Hall was renamed to Independence Square, and today is a popular attraction for locals.
The architecture of the Independence Memorial Hall is based on the Audience Hall of the Royal Palace of Kandy, where the Sri Lankan monarchy from the Kingdom of Kandy once resided; the kings of Kandy being the rulers who handed over the island’s sovereignty to the British in 1815. Its interior is supported by 60 pillars that feature wooden carvings from Sri Lanka’s ancient kingdom of Gampola, while its exterior showcases “Punkalasas”, pots of prosperity that are traditional Sinhalese symbols of wealth and good fortune. The building acted as a ceremonial assembly hall for the country’s Senate and House of Representatives, before the parliament moved to the new Parliament Complex. Now, annual celebrations for the Sri Lankan Independence Day are held here, while during the rest of the year it is a popular location for joggers, family outings and for tourists.