iSurprise Old Town Hall

Former mayor’s office in gothic style, now a quirky museum

Haunted house?

What used to be the city’s first town hall, is now rather decrepit and largely populated by stray dogs. With its long arches, needlepoint columns, crumbly yellow walls and creaky staircases, it looks more like a haunted house in a Harry Potter movie than a mayor’s office, which is exactly what makes this little museum such an interesting site to visit!

The Town Hall looks more like a haunted house in a Harry Potter movie than a mayor’s office.

Quirky museum

The highlight of the visit is the top floor boardroom, which is no longer a boardroom but a museum. Sitting around the table are the participants - eerie life-sized doll figures! - of the Town Hall’s inaugural meeting in 1906. Also, on the first floor is a huge room that looks like it could belong in a church (and in fact is used by some groups as prayer room) and adjacent to this is the mayor’s private chamber, a luxurious room with expensive-looking old furniture and a working fireplace! The ground floor is filled with old relics from city life in Colombo. There is a miniature replica of the new town hall building and mysteriously, a tattered piece of the mayor’s official uniform was preserved. We love the outside area with its wonderfully casual collection of old fire trucks, busses, signposts and even a mobile library.

Surprising shopping arcade

The ground floor of the Town Hall is now a thriving centre for the trade of all manner of goods. Before 1983, it was a vegetable market, now hardware, kitchen items and all sorts of other household products. Gaddafi Traders was one of the first place to open up for business.

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