iSee President’s Palace

Old governor’s residence turned presidential palace

Governor’s residence

Since 1804 this was the #01 house in the country. It’s been the private residence of 29 Dutch and British governors and six Sri Lankan Presidents. In the early days it was known as ‘Queen's House’, but since Sri Lanka became a republic in 1972, people call it ‘President’s House’. It was the Dutchman Johan Van Angelbeek, governor from 1794-1796 who commissioned his Governor’s Residence. It was a relatively modest two-storeyed white coloured building with a balcony facing the sea, very modern for those days. His successors later added new wings, corridors and more rooms and made it the grand palace you see today.

The big tree

The majestic Nuga tree which shades the palace was planted by the wife of Sir Joseph West Ridgeway, to mark the silver jubilee of the coronation of Queen Victoria. The Ceylon Mail of 25th June 1897 reported: “The people of Colombo celebrated the event by singing and dancing around the Nuga tree.”

Nice to know

In the 1980s and 1990s, the palace was refurbished under the direction of Sri Lanka's greatest architect Geoffrey Bawa.

Handsome and lofty. The largest and best dwelling house in the Fort of Colombo.
— Johan van Angelbeek, Governor 1794-1796
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