Sri Lanka is a country with a long and storied colonial history and heritage. For centuries the island had significant interactions and conflicts with the sea-faring Europeans who had begun to colonise all over Asia. Sri Lanka has now been independent for more than seven decades, but the legacy and impact of its colonial overlords is still apparent if you take a look around its most important cities. For example, colonial influences are apparent all throughout the coastal city of Galle – from the iconic Galle Fort to the Colonial History Museum. But one attraction that might fly under your radar is the St Joseph’s Chape – a quaint little Roman Catholic Church that’s nestled away amidst the sleepy streets of the city.
The Dutch first arrived in Sri Lanka around the early half of the 17th century. The Sri Lankan king at the time requested their help in order to rid the island of the Portuguese. The Dutch successfully completed this request; however, they would also supplant the Portuguese as the new European occupants of the island. Once the maritime provinces of Sri Lanka were subjugated, the Dutch went about constructing various structures to help with administering Sri Lanka’s coastal regions as well as to slowly spread their culture throughout the region. The St Joseph’s Chapel was one such structure and it continues to operate to this day, making it one of the oldest functioning Roman Catholic Churches found in Sri Lanka.
You can find the chapel along the famous Lighthouse Street that’s close to the iconic Galle Fort. The chapel was first built in 1893, meaning there are more than 125 years of history lingering at this location. So, if you’ve committed a day to explore the wonders of the Galle Fort, be sure to make a stop by this chapel on your way out.