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The Red Mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka is a Marvel of Architecture


SRI LANKA ’S RED MOSQUE, OR Jami Ul- Alfar Masjid, is one of the architectural marvels of the world. Situated in the bustling Pettah quarter, one of the oldestregion of the city of Colombo, its towering minarets are seen from nearly every road, towering over the hustle and bustle of the busy neighborhood thorough fares.




It is said that the Red Mosque has been a landmark for sailors approaching the port of Colombo ever since it was built in 1908, and upon looking at it you can easily imagine that being true. The mosque’s distinct red-and-white pattern, whether swirling or spiraling or alternating, is quite mesmerizing.


The domes are built in the shape of pomegranate (unlike the traditional onion shape), and the colorful brick patterns are meant to convey the same image.

The Red Mosque, also known as Rathu Palliya in Sinhala, and Samman Kottu Palli in Tamil, was built in what is called Indo-Saracenic style, and is reminiscent of the Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (constructed around the same time).


Words cannot convey how exciting it is to see the mosque’s tall minarets and domes from the streets of Pettah, with its busy markets, shops, and bazaars. Pettah literally means “outside of the fort” and has for centuries been a trading outpost. Pettah is a curiosity, with narrow streets and shops overflowing with anything you can think of. But nothing compares with seeing this magnificent structure rising above it all.


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