Close to the coastal village of Gurunagar, Jaffna, is where you’ll find Jaffna Fort, an intriguing piece of architecture built by the Portuguese between 1618 and 1625. While under Portuguese occupation, the fort was called ‘Fortress of Our Lady of Miracles of Jafanapatão’, a name derived from the neighbouring church dedicated to Virgin Mary.
In 1658, the Dutch took hold of the fort, and the Portuguese lost their last stronghold in Sri Lanka. The Dutch went on to expand the fort, but again, the fort swapped hands in 1795, when the British invaded and drove out the Dutch. The fort remained a British garrison up until 1948.
Today, the 400-year-old fort is a visceral reminder of Sri Lanka’s colonial past, as well as a maritime heritage. The massive fort complex overlooks the Jaffna lagoon, and while much of it remains intact, a certain part of the fort had to undergo extensive restoration efforts.
The fort is known as one of the greatest Dutch forts in Asia, owing to the extensive alterations they made to the original Portuguese design, including adding defensive triangles to mirror something similar to a snowflake (which is especially visible from an aerial vantage point).
The gorgeous fort is settled within the borders of a pentagon, which is, in turn, surrounded by a moat. The fort’s walls were constructed with a combination of mortar, brick, stone and coral, and to this day, are mostly hidden underneath grassy slopes.
If you’re into history and the exciting architectural wonders it has gifted us with, a visit to Jaffna Fort would be ideal for you!