Mannar Fort


The Portuguese built the Mannar Fort in 1560; this is located in the heart of Mannar, overlooking the Indian Ocean, ensuring that this fort provides all the security that this trading port requires. During the war with the Dutch in 1658, this four-bastion fort was damaged, but after they took over Sri Lanka, they rebuilt the fort in 1696. Finally, in 1795, the Dutch surrendered the Mannar fort to the British. The ruins inside the fort are attractive, with one area being the church of the defence.

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Historical Significance

The origins of Mannar Fort trace back to the Portuguese era when they sought to establish their dominance along the coastal areas of Sri Lanka. Construction began in the 1540s, with the fort as a strategic outpost for the Portuguese. However, their reign was short-lived as the Dutch, aiming to expand their influence in the region, seized control of the fort in 1658.

Under Dutch rule, Mannar Fort underwent slight modification. The Dutch mainly focused on reinforcing the existing structure, recognizing its importance in safeguarding their territorial interests. However, their hold on the fort was also temporary, as the British forces triumphed over the Dutch in 1795, leading to the fort's subsequent occupation by the British Empire.

Architecture and Features

Mannar Fort's architectural design showcases the defensive prowess of its builders. The fort's bastions reach a towering height of approximately 3.5 meters, providing commanding views over the surrounding landscapes and the vast ocean beyond. Thick walls measuring about 1.5 meters enclose the fort, offering a glimpse into the formidable nature of its construction.

Within the fort's walls, visitors can explore the remnants of a church, offering a glimpse into the religious practices of the past. Additionally, two watchtowers grace the fort's corners, serving as a reminder of the vigilant eyes that once monitored the surrounding territory.

Decline and Present Condition

During its heyday, Mannar Fort prospered through the practice of pearl fishery. The waters surrounding the fort were abundant with pearl oysters, contributing to the fort's wealth and grandeur. However, with the depletion of the pearl oyster population, the fort's fortunes dwindled, and its significance waned.

Today, the fort is under the care of Sri Lanka's Department of Archaeology. While it may not possess the same splendour it once did, the fort stands as a historical treasure, drawing visitors from near and far to appreciate its architectural beauty and delve into the intriguing stories hidden within its weathered walls.

Visiting Mannar Fort

To make the most of a visit to Mannar Fort, planning your trip during specific months is advisable. The best time to explore the fort and its surroundings is between July and September, as well as between December and February. During these periods, the weather is more agreeable, providing a pleasant experience for visitors.

It is worth noting that the Northern Province, where Mannar Fort is located, experiences extremely high temperatures during the summer months of April to June. Therefore, plan your trip accordingly to avoid discomfort and ensure an enjoyable visit.

Mannar Fort is an enduring testament to the tumultuous history of Sri Lanka and the colonial powers that vied for control of the island. Its architectural grandeur and fascinating features transport visitors to a bygone era, immersing them in the stories and legends surrounding this historic gem. By exploring Mannar Fort, one can appreciate the significance of its past and gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultural tapestry of Sri Lanka.


  1. Can I take photographs inside Mannar Fort? Yes, photography is allowed within the fort. Capture the beauty and essence of this historic site to treasure your memories.
  2. Are there any guided tours available at Mannar Fort? While guided tours might not be available within the fort itself, local tour operators often organize guided tours of Mannar Island, which include a visit to the defence.
  3. Is there an entrance fee to visit Mannar Fort? As of the latest information, there is no entrance fee to explore Mannar Fort. Visitors can enter the fort and wander through its captivating remnants.
  4. Are there any accommodations near Mannar Fort? Mannar town offers various accommodation options, ranging from budget guesthouses to more luxurious hotels. Consider staying nearby to experience the fort and its surroundings fully.
  5. Is Mannar Fort wheelchair accessible? Unfortunately, due to the fort's historical nature and uneven terrain, wheelchair accessibility might be limited. Visitors with mobility concerns should plan their visit accordingly.


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