The Wolvendaal Church is probably the most impressive piece of Dutch architecture in Colombo. It’s very, very solid – five foot thick walls, high ceilings – and full of history.
A reasonable walk away from Pettah stands the Wolvendaal Church. It’s named as a den of wolves, what the Dutch called street jackals, but now it’s a fairly urbanized area with only street dogs.
The church itself is a bit crumbly and not well maintained, but it is quite impressive. They started building it in 1749 and it was completed in 1757. This church is built like a fortress and built to last. The walls are thick, the ceiling high and the very floor paved with occasionally ornate tombstones.
You can spend a good bit of time just wandering around looking at the stories beneath your feet.
There’s an awful lot of colonists who died young, like in their thirties. A lot of wives actually. It seemed like a hard life, and you can read it (in Dutch) on the floor. I looked up some of the family names and their descendants are in Sri Lanka still.
Lonely Planet also highlights the church’s old Dutch furniture, which is also pretty cool.
We’ll discuss the service in the church sense – they have an English language service at 9:30 AM on Sundays. When we went there was a kind an knowledgeable man working there and he’s quite happy to chat.
We walked to the church from Pettah, but that’s about a kilometer. You can of course drive and park there, it’s not especially busy. The church is on a somewhat triangular plot of land and there are tombstones and carvings and little bits of history around the grounds.
If you’re into history, this 1757 church is an important part of Colombo. It’s heavy, lasting architecture that they don’t make anymore and we think it’s worth a visit.